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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Dance theater turns 5

    The UA School of Dance celebrated the five-year anniversary of the completion of the Stevie Eller Dance Theatre by hosting a lavish gala that included performances from UA dancers as well as Broadway star Liz Callaway Saturday.

    Kathleen Assar, immediate past president of the dance advisory board, said the construction of the Eller theatre signified a commitment from the UA to the dance program.

    “”Five years ago (we constructed) the theatre and that was built largely with contributions and gift money from members of the community that were interested in dance and making sure that (dance) is something that is important for the university,”” Assar said.

    This building, along with the overall quality of the dance program, ranks the UA School of Dance alongside performing-arts-only schools such as The Juilliard School and Purchase College, Assar said.

    “”Certainly (the dance program) speaks of the highest possible quality in the United States and (it’s) the only quality program in the (West),”” Assar said. “”I am not just talking about the Southwest. I am talking about the entire western part of the United States, this is the best program in dance available.””

    Laura Donnelly, business manager in charge of marketing for the school of dance, said that this celebration provided the dance school with the opportunity to thank many of the people who were so instrumental in funding the building.

    “”It is to reconnect with people … and to kind of celebrate this with other friends … of the program.””

    One of those friends, UA President Robert Shelton, said this event was important for two reasons: it gives the dance students the opportunity to interact with people from the community, and it also allows the UA to show off its great dance program.

    “”First of all, I love the dance performers,”” Shelton said. “”We go to a number of performances in the Eller Dance Theatre every year just to see the quality of the performance. Secondly, this sort of demonstrates what excellence is all about. It is probably the top dance program in the country and we need to celebrate excellence no matter where it is at, whether it’s on Mars or right here at Eller.””

    Like most other programs on campus, the School of Dance cannot function without donations from other people in the community. Assar said this is an opportunity to give back to people who constantly give to the UA.

    “”Particularly with the economy being kind of worrisome right now, I think it is nice for donors to realize that their efforts are still appreciated, even though it is for a building that was erected five years ago,”” Assar said.

    Katie Halajian, a dance freshman, said that it is nice to be able to interact with many of the donors and to see how much people care about the dance program.

    “”It is really amazing just to know that people actually care and that people support us,”” Halajian said. “”It is a time to show them our gratitude.””

    Assar said that she just hopes that all of the dance students realize how much the community actually does appreciate them.

    “”It proves to the students that people in the community are really on their side,”” Assar said. “”All of us were university students at one point and it is very easy to become centered in the campus … and forget that aside from the state appropriations, there are also other individuals that have a commitment to the university and what it does.””

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