Due to the growing popularity of the dance concentration within CSUN’s Kinesiology Department, dance could become a full-fledged undergraduate major by 2010, according to associate kinesiology lecturer Paula Thomson.
Currently, dance is one of five concentration options for kinesiology majors and has become a minor within the past year. The dance program has come a long way to reach this point, as Thomson points out, “two years ago the program was in disarray.” Many dance instructors retired at the same time, and the program was without leadership.
Recent campus events such as “Kinesis: Emerging Choreography” have not only showcased the talent of CSUN choreographers and dancers, but has also shown a heightened interest by the general CSUN community.
“We were turning people away at the door,” Thomson said of “Dialogues in Dance,” a recent dance showcase where both of the night’s performances were sold out.
Jacob Lyons is one CSUN student who hopes dance becomes a full major sooner rather than later. A kinesiology student for the past two years, Lyons is working with instructors to establish an interdisciplinary dance major for himself where he would combine classes from multiple departments.
Like most break-dancers, Lyons started at a young age and is self-taught. Despite professional success with dance instruction and performance, Lyons did not come to CSUN expecting to do much dancing, except for the one dance class required of all kinesiology majors.
Paula Thomson noticed his talent and encouraged him to take further dance classes including courses in choreography. Initially Lyons did not believe he could be a choreographer.
“I’m the guy that gets told what to do,” Lyons said of his thinking at the time.
Lyons attributes his current success to the one-on-one mentoring he got from Thomson, and said this sort of relationship is necessary for many dancers to reach their potential.
Lyons’ success in choreography classes inspired Lyons to form his own dance company, Lux Aeterna, where he serves as artistic director. On October 5th, Lux Aeterna will become the first break dance company to perform at Ford Theatre in Hollywood.
Lyons also continues to teach dance and serve as a judge for various competitions, including the upcoming Red Bull BC One break dance competition in South Africa.
Lyons has been involved with such CSUN dance projects as last fall’s collaboration with CSUN’s opera company and May’s “Kinesis: Emerging Choreography,” which sold out the 500 seat Plaza del Sol Performance Hall. The event featured many types of dance including hip hop, jazz, a solo ballet piece and Lyons’ own unique fusion of break dancing and various other styles such as ballet and Brazilian Capoeira, which closed the show and received a standing ovation, Lyons said.
Lyons is not the only dance student to be working professionally while in school. For self-taught dancers like Lyons, professional dancing often comes before formal dance instruction. The type of guidance that is possible in the university setting could be helpful for many people, Lyons said.
“It is important to strike a balance between structure and experimentation to be successful.” Lyons said.