Dance and theater classes complete the art department

Sophie Downey, A&E Editor

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With outstanding visual arts, music, and student work in theater production, it may seem like South’s art department has everything. But this year, South added a new theater class and a dance class to its curriculum, “to complete their arts department,” according to the new teacher, Erin Brown.

The theater class focuses on acting, directing, and technical theater, while the dance class will be exploring many different forms of dance as well as learning culture and history.

“It’s like a little stress reliever,” said  freshman Teaera Daniels of the sixth hour dance class.

“Everyone’s really comfortable with each other,” added her classmate sophomore Paula Guerrero. “This is a good place to start if you’re just starting dance because you don’t have to worry about performing or anything. It’s just being comfortable with people you know, that you have class with every day. And you can joke around, and mess up.”

“It’s a very active class,” said Brown. “We’re not sitting and reading and listening. I try to have them up and moving four days out of five.”

Brown brings a wide scope of knowledge and experience to these classes. She grew up in Minnesota and received a degree in dance at St. Olaf, as well as a Masters of Fine Arts degree from the University of North Carolina. She went on to teach at schools in North Carolina, Kentucky, and Oklahoma before returning to her home state.

“I’ve been away for 15 years,” she says. “So it’s exciting to come back to the Twin Cities.”

“So far my impression [of South] is that this is a very energized and very busy and full school,” says Brown. “The last school I taught in had only 120 students, and this is a faculty of 120, so that’s kind of overwhelming. But it definitely has a lot of energy and I love the diversity of the school. It seems like there’s just a really wide mix of students from all different walks of life, which I think is exciting.”

Besides teaching the theater and dance classes, Brown will help with the production of plays at South, working with the directors and choreographing the spring musical.

“It was really great watching the auditions for the theater,” says Brown. “Because I could see all the talent and the really accomplished people that are here at South ready to work and do a really high quality production.”

“I’m really looking forward to the musical,” she added.

Brown’s theater class went over the basics of auditioning at the beginning of the year, which helped some students land roles in the plays currently being produced.

“I’ve been involved with theater, but I’ve never been in a real play, really,” said freshman Aubryn Hauge, who auditioned and was cast in “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” “[The class] explained how the audition process worked, which was helpful. I met more people that were also auditioning, so that made me more comfortable with going for it.”

Freshman Mohammed Islam has also learned valuable lessons from the class. “When you’re doing a scene,” said Islam, “The character is not you. You’re a completely different person, so you shouldn’t be nervous to go and put yourself out there.”
In the dance class, students of all different levels of experience are learning new and different things. Brown has studied tap, jazz, ballet, modern, social dance, and hip hop, and all of these different styles will be reflected in the class.

“It’s a mixture of everything,” said sophomore Kandis Davis-LaRose, who has a background in cheerleading.

“Before I was mostly interested in jazz, hip hop, and modern,” said junior Mackenzie Herman-Olson, who has been on the dance team for a year. “But now, [what we’re doing] is really cool, and it’s swing.”

“I guess it just makes you more well rounded,” she added.
“What I teach is more about the whole picture,” said Brown. “We’re studying the history, the culture, and the technique of many different styles.”

Brown expects that the dance class especially will continue to expand. “My hope is to offer a Dance 2 class next semester,” she said
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