September -5, 2016
Approximately 15 theater and dance students graduated from UCCS last spring, but the program continues to grow.
This fall, there are 55-65 majors in a program that see 350-400 students from all departments come through at any given time.
This number includes theater and dance majors, minors and students who wish to take theater electives, according to Theatre and Dance Program director Kevin Landis.
The Theatre and Dance Program aim to provide a wellrounded, liberal arts education, said Landis. Students must learn to write, work behind the scenes and act, amongst other skills like designing a lighting grid and directing.
“Theater is so much more than what the audience sees; students train for life,” said Landis.
Students do not always end up working as actors or actresses in the theater, although many perform in TheatreWorks productions during their time at UCCS.
TheatreWorks allows students to work with professional actors and get paid for their work.
Alumni have pursued careers in New York, the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, theater companies in Denver and technical stage management.
Networking is also a perk of the degree, and alumni stay in touch with their professors after they graduate.
Emily Christensen, a second year school counseling master’s student, graduated with degrees in theater and English in 2014. Christensen is still in contact with Landis and attends local theater.
“Networking is important. TheatreWorks is a great way to connect you to artists with similar views and also those with different experiences,” said Christensen.
Christensen performed in six productions during her time as an undergraduate student, and, according to her, theater taught many valuable skills, including fl exibility, organization, collaboration and problem solving.
“The best class I took was a clown class because it looked at knowing yourself and fi nding what’s funny in you. You learned to be introspective,” said Christensen.
“Theater puts you in a situation where you learn yourself and how to interact.”
Being open-minded to new perspectives is important in theater, according to Christensen.
“Having humility offers opportunity to learn from other people.”
The theater and dance program is expected to continue growing once construction for the Ent Center for the Arts is completed in January of 2018.
Even with an expanding program, class sizes are still intimate, said Landis.
“Classes are small because of limited space, but with the intimate environment, students develop people skills and work with others, which is important in theater,” said Landis.
“Theater applies to all careers; there are so many different ways that the arts apply,” said Landis.
Interpersonal communication is an important aspect of the major that students can use regardless of what they decide to do with their degree.
“You have a connection with the audience. If you can build a connection with 200 people, then you’ll do well in your job interview,” said Landis.
Alumni may experience theater differently after graduation. Analyzing what is going on behind the scenes is something Christensen noticed as an audience member.
“Knowing what a play is about and seeing what a director does with it is always interesting from a different perspective,” said Christensen.
For more in formation on the theater and dance program, visit uccs.edu/vapa/index/theatre.