Dance hall daze: Fundraiser opens grand new facility
With athletics as a model for success, Susan Anderson probably feels a little like she’s taking the field for opening night at the new Yankee Stadium.
“Everybody wants to be on a winning team, and I really feel like we've built a winning team here,” says Anderson, founding director of the University’s 32-year-old dance program. “We’re very similar to the athletics department in that way.
"I really feel like we've built a winning team here."
“We are now attracting the best students because we can now provide them the best opportunity to succeed, both academically and professionally.”
A grand new dance hall—a combined facility that will share space with the marching band—will help Anderson’s mission.
To celebrate, the dance program will hold its annual fundraising gala in the new Sumter Street facility at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 25. Ticket prices start at $75 and are capped at $125 if the donor would like to have a personalized brick placed on the building’s grounds.
University President Harris Pastides and Patricia Moore-Pastides will serve as honorary co-chairs, and Helmut and Gillian Albrecht are co-chairs.
'An amazing woman'
The Pastides family has a strong connection to the dance program. Daughter Katharine took classes and danced with the program as a high school student. Son Andrew's fiancee attended summer dance camps under Anderson's tutelage.
Moore-Pastides also joined a dance advisory council as the program sought--and gained--approval as an official academic major, and began to raise scholarship money. She praises Anderson's leadership.
"She's an amazing woman with a tremendous amount of talent and energy--really tenacious," she says. "There are a lot of good performance opportunities for students, and Susan really cultivates that by bringing in the dancers from the New York City Ballet and really strong faculty.
"The other thing Susan does is teach dance-appreciation classes across campus, like 1,000 students a year. It's a really great thing, a life skill. The influence of popular culture has its place, but it's very nice to have students educated in the classics."
Showcase event, facility
“I’m a big supporter of the arts,” says Albrecht, an original cast member of “A Chorus Line” on Broadway and a friend of Anderson’s and Moore-Pastides’. “The arts are a huge part of our culture and our world.”
Albrecht says she has been working to organize the event since September and that around 300 people are expected to attend.
What they will see is a $9.8 million facility with three large dance studios that have the capability to turn into six if needed, sprung floors, offices, a large classroom, a smart classroom, and shower space.
"It's amazing, it's great," Moore-Pastides says. "All the rehearsal studios have windows--it's not a dunegon--and you need that daylight to keep your spirits up.
"The ceilings have great height. If you ever saw them dance in the bowels of the Blatt P.E. Center, they had to push the ceiling tiles out because there wasn't enough space when the male dancers lifted the female dancers."
The money raised from the gala will go toward scholarships in the dance program, one of the fastest growing programs in the Southeast with 76 majors.
- What: Dance fundraiser
- When: 7 p.m. Saturday, April 25
- Where: Dance hall, 324 Sumter St. | map
- Tickets: $75 to $125
- Call: Kevin Bush, 777-9353