Each week, Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance Audrey Baran logs into Zoom from Robinson dance studio 115 to give public school dance students a special opportunity. Working with local dance teachers, and aided by current UNC Charlotte dance students, she teaches jazz or modern dance techniques to classes of homebound teenagers. By the end of October, she will have given more than 25 classes to students in eight different schools – seven high schools and one middle school.
Following instruction, Baran and her UNC Charlotte assistants answer questions about pursuing dance in college, and in particular, at UNC Charlotte. It is a topic that Baran knows well. Not only does she teach in the Department of Dance, she graduated from the program in 2003. In 2019, she received the Distinguished Alumni Award in Dance.
"The purpose of this program is to cultivate visibility of the Department of Dance and our rich, diverse, and relevant offerings for potential dance majors and minors," she says. "We are eager to share with North Carolina high school dance programs and private studios the rigorous dance training, academic enrichment, and flexible, individual support that UNC Charlotte Dance provides. As an alumna, I can also attest to the creative, cultural, and educational impact of the Department of Dance and look forward to building awareness of our unique program with emerging dance artists."
Baran’s original plan was to travel in person from school to school this semester to teach classes and share her love for her alma mater with dance students. The new virtual environment has not dampened her enthusiasm, though, or the enthusiasm of the participants. Regardless of the format – virtual or in person – Baran hopes to continue to provide classes, perhaps into the spring.
“I’m finding that there are some really strong programs and dancers and instructors in the public schools,” she says.
One recent experience was particularly special: teaching class at Hopewell High School in Huntersville, where the dance instructor is Makayla Church Rosenberger, also an alumna of the UNC Charlotte Department of Dance. See a screenshot below of the class. Baran, top row, second from the left, exchanges a thumbs up with Rosenburg, who is in the top far right corner.