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End of School Year Newsletter

Greetings from the Department of Dance,

 It seems like only a moment ago that I wrote to touch base with you on our Covid-19 strategies and to share a few positive news stories with you. Now, we are wrapping up spring quarter. As I write this, in mid-May, we are still in phase I of Governor Jay Inslee’s four phased plan for returning to some semblance of “normalcy.” Our shelter-in-place orders are at least until May 31. Social/physical distancing is going to continue for many months in various iterations. In spite of all that has and will continue to happen with regard to the pandemic, a couple of things are glaringly obvious. First, we are longing for three-dimensional interaction with humans and second, artists and artist/educators are figuring out innovative ways to share information. Instagram and Zoom dance technique and movement classes happen around the clock, around the world. Streaming of performances, live and recorded have been happening at an unprecedented rate. Artists are offering free or donation-based performances of their work, new and archival, that some of us never thought we would ever see.

Behind the scenes, departments across the university are working to create scenarios that allow us to continue to offer the best education we can to our wonderful students, and to the incoming class of first year students, no matter what phase we might be in when we start classes in the fall. I won’t go into detail about the UW’s over-arching plans but I have included a link that might be helpful and informative. The situation is changing daily, and we can’t project too far into the future at this point.

 The Department of Dance is, as our Divisional Dean Catherine Cole says, “The little engine that could.” We keep moving forward. We have sixty majors and 90 minors and serve hundreds of non-majors.This fall we will add two full-time faculty members and gain Dean Cole as a colleague. See links: Rujeko Dumbutshena is New Assistant Professor, Alana Isiguen is Artist in Residence, Catherine Cole Joins the Department.

This is the last newsletter I will write as chair of the department. After six and a half years as chair, I have decided to step down. I will be returning to teaching and choreographing full time, and hopefully, beginning to write more about pedagogy, curricular development, and art making. I have been honored to serve the department I love like a family. I cannot imagine ever working anywhere else. Some of you may have already heard, in addition to welcoming three new faculty to our department we also welcome Christina Sunardi, Associate Professor from the School of Music as our new chair. Sunardi has spent time in our department serving on search committees and even taking dance classes. We felt she was the right fit to take over the position and help us move forward with some of our goals for the future of the department. Sunardi begins on July 1.

As I mentioned at the beginning, this letter was written in mid-May. By the time you receive this, we will have logged into our Zoom accounts, clicked on “Join a meeting” and celebrated our graduating seniors and graduate students in a ceremony. While this event will never take place of a live ceremony, we know that it is a vital rite of passage for us all. See photos here: insert photos after graduation! 

Students and faculty have been together via zoom for many weeks now. Although there is Zoom fatigue for all of us, we relish the time together. It is a bright part of our day. I hope that, wherever you are, you are safe and healthy, and finding ways to find a bit of joy in all of the uncertainty.


Jennifer Salk