Renée Brozic Barger, dance department director, assistant professor of dance, and Rep Stage resident choreographer performs, teaches, and choreographs regionally, as well as internationally.
Dancers are flexible, and so is HCC’s dance program. “Our program is distinctive in that it is designed to see where students are in their dance training and move them forward from there,” explains Barger. “They receive a lot of individual attention and a recommended path to help them achieve their goals.”
Even with an ambitious curriculum that encompasses modern dance and ballet technique classes, jazz, hip-hop, bellydance, ballroom, Latin, African, musical theatre, improvisation, and composition, Barger is planning new courses in repertory dance and choreography.
Dance students have the opportunity through classes, rehearsals, and performances to work with talented faculty members who are also active performers and choreographers.
Students build relationships with professionals in the community by performing, working backstage, and participating in free master classes through the annual Howard County Community Dance Festival in cooperation with the Howard County Arts Council.
Through HCC’s Arts Collective Dance Company (ACDC), stu- dents gain valuable experience beyond dancing, including planning, producing, choreographing, and marketing the performances. Barger believes that collaborating with others and exposing students to other genres allows them to find out what they can create together. “Each of the arts informs and inspires all the others,” she says.
Because the dance program is fairly young, most of its graduates are still in college, having transferred to four-year programs, including University of Maryland Baltimore County where Barger has developed an articulation agreement. Many want to teach and plan to enter careers in public school education. “We offer a program that includes what students need to emerge as stronger candidates to perform, produce, or teach dance,” remarks Barger.
CHOOSE YOUR WEAPON
There’s a lot more to stage fighting than meets the eye. Jenny Male, HCC assistant professor of theatre and stage movement, coordinator of musical theatre, and Rep Stage resident fight director, is a theatre director, choreographer, and the only woman in Maryland certified by the Society of American Fight Directors to teach students how to fight on stage and make it believable and safe.
Male realized how difficult it is to act out a fight when she choreographed Romeo and Juliet at age 18. “Many plays have characters that fight, which require special training to perform the choreography well,” she says. HCC students can strengthen their technique, taking Male’s classes in unarmed stage combat, sword fighting, quarterstaff, and more.
The versatile Male also helps HCC theatre students speak with clarity in diction classes; teaches a course in movement for the actor; and provides musical theatre workshops.
The skills and techniques Male is teaching will help students win roles in theatre productions. “There’s nothing greater that preparing students to tackle the challenges and opportunities in theatre,” Male says.