History

Descend Sky Choreographed by Jessie Young, Photo by Natalie FiolThe Department of Dance was established in the College of Fine and Applied Arts in 1969. At that time, the curriculum was primarily based on ideas and philosophies stemming from the aesthetic evolution of modern dance and ballet. The faculty and students were not as diverse as we see today. (For instance, "minority" students were 10% of the population in 1998-99 as opposed to 34% in 2016. There are no statistics for minority faculty in 1998-99.) The growing diversity of our faculty, students, and curriculum is a result of strategic initiatives set by the faculty beginning in 2008-9.

Who Dances

Data on diversity is complicated. Some aspects of diversity, such as race and gender, are measurable. Even within these categories, however, reporting is complex in terms of self-identification. Some classifications such as gender identity, abilities, and class are not always easily measurable due to privacy. We are aware that the below numbers are measuring only part of the story.

The Numbers

Race

State of Illinois 2015

  • 61% White
  • 39% People of color
  • 12% Hispanic
  • 15% African American
  • 3.4% Asian
  • 1% Native American
  • 2% Multiracial

Gender

Illinois/USA: 50% female

Underrepresented Students at Illinois

According to the Division of Management Information, students are counted as underrepresented if they self-identify as a member of one of the following racial/ethnic groups: American Indian and Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, African American, and Hispanic/Latino/Latina. Multiracial students are counted as a member of an underrepresented group if one race/ethnicity they selected was one of these groups.

Underrepresented Groups in the Department of Dance

Percentage of Underrepresented Groups by Academic Year

Academic Year

Academic Staff

Undergraduates

Graduate Students

All Students

2014-2015

16.7

24.6

23.1

24.3

2013-2014

10.5

25.9

25

25.8

2012-2013

10

34.1

20

31.5

2011-2012

10.5

29.5

12.5

27.5

2010-2011

10

22.4

13.3

20.7

2009-2010

10

22.4

13.3

20.7

2008-2009

8.7

19.1

7.1

17.1

2007-2008

13.6

12.1

0

10.3

2006-2007

4.8

7.1

0

5.8

2005-2006

6.3

9.3

0

7.6

We made progress toward our goals due to consistent, comprehensive, and specific efforts:

  • Student Recruitment: We established sister schools with high school dance programs that had high percentages of underrepresented students and actively searched and utilized our collective contacts.
  • Auditions: We changed audition activities (adding improvisation, more diverse styles, and focus on the interview). We opened our lens to consider technique/training cultivated through non-Western traditions.
  • Faculty Recruitment: We developed a pipeline of potential faculty members by strategically inviting artists of color through our guest artist program. Over 50% of our guest artists in the last 10 years have been from underrepresented groups.
  • Faculty Retention: We established a mentoring process to support the progress of faculty toward promotion and tenure.
  • Searches: When we were granted searches we prioritized bringing in people who could deliver a more diverse curriculum and could serve as mentors and role models for our students.

What We Dance: Curriculum

Since 2000, we have consistently offered modern technique based on both Western/European and African traditions and consistently offer African, hip-hop, and Capoeira techniques. In 2009, instructors were encouraged to develop multiple perspectives in Dance 100: Introduction to Dance. We have ongoing, comprehensive curricular review of our courses, nomenclature, and handbooks.

How We Dance Together

We established a diversity section on our website in 2016 in order to communicate our goals and actions. Since 2010, we have established annual workshops for faculty and graduate and undergraduate students to discuss issues of diversity and inclusivity.

In 2014, we secured two new faculty lines and a post-doc position for faculty with expertise in ballet, hip-hop, and African-based contemporary dance. We have furthered the discussion of race in America through guest artist performances and workshops.