Memorial University of Newfoundland (St. John's and Grenfell campuses) piloted a Dancer-in-Residence program as a means of gauging and establishing interest in and initiating dance-centric study at Memorial, as well as engaging with the academic and artistic communities. Key partnerships were formed with Creative Gros Morne and DanceNL. Karen Kaeja, a Canadian dancer of national/international stature was invited to Memorial in the Fall of 2014, to act as a direct bridge to dancers across the province as well as to faculty, staff and students on both campuses. The program lasted 6 weeks: 2 weeks at St. John's campus, 2 weeks at Grenfell, and 2 weeks at Gros Morne National Park. Activities included: delivering lectures and workshops in courses throughout the curriculum on both campuses; consulting with local dancers and choreographers on their dance productions and interests; providing outreach with local dance schools, community dance groups, DanceNL and others; hosting public events related to the project (performance, reading, public talk, exhibit); and media engagement. The residency also served as incubator for Kaeja's own creative work and professional artistic development, particularly at the Gros Morne site, where emphasis on artistic retreat is in line with other similar residencies through Creative Gros Morne. Resulting activities will be preserved through archival means (DAI, CNS archives) for future accessibility.
The Dancer-in-Residence program aims to:
-advance critical thinking about the arts
-round out the excellent creative arts programming at Memorial
-cultivate much-needed scholarly and creative discourse about dance and the practice of it, among university and artistic -communities
-affect public outreach and community engagement through knowledge mobilization of the residency activities
-create an intercampus project that is of mutual benefit
-provide linkages with a number of departments (Music, HKR, Theatre, Education, etc.) to the utility of dance as a means of study
-bring a world-class artist to Newfoundland and Labrador for mutual artistic and scholarly benefit in a way that has never been achieved before
This project provided a unique opportunity to bring together members of the Memorial community on both the St. John's and Grenfell campuses with dancers across the province. We created partnerships both internally and externally, linking the university to community groups and providing opportunity for each to influence the other in terms of the programming opportunities that they offer their members.
The artistic community supported and celebrated this initiative, as it was the first time a university east of Montreal to provided any kind of dance programming on its campus. This project was one of the few academic dance residencies in North America and we believe the only one in Canada. The results of this residency will continue to resonate in scholarly, creative and public venues across the province.
We anticipate this pilot will become a regularly offered residency. At the very least this was an opportunity to bring an individual of high creative and scholarly standing to Memorial to engage with the dance communities across the province, enhancing the fine dance traditions that we already see here. It is our long-term hope that this residency will plant the seed for sustained funding towards the creation and implementation of academic dance programming at Memorial. We will continue to evaluate process and outputs to continue to review and increase its utility in future offerings.