Education, dance collaboration brings artist-in-residence to ECU

Blending dance and education to form community relationships was the goal of the East Carolina University College of Education and the College of Fine Arts and Communication’s artist-in-residence program.

Leaders from CFAC’s School of Theatre and Dance and COE’s Department of Educational Leadership collaborated to bring dancer Andrea Guajardo to ECU’s campus in the spring of 2020 for a weeklong residency.

Guajardo is a dancer, choreographer and founder of Ballet Nepantla, a professional dance company based in Brooklyn, New York. Her dance style fuses traditional Mexican folkloric dance with contemporary ballet and often centers around cultural issues and narratives of Mexican-American history and identity.

Andrea Guajardo on screen with ECU dance students

Andrea Guajardo continued working with ECU dance students virtually during the pandemic.

While at ECU, Guajardo taught master classes to dance majors and created an original work for the dance department to perform at the Spring Dance 2020 concert, called Huapango Medley with the introduction solo Living in the Borderlands Means. However, due to COVID-19, the performance was postponed until this year’s Spring Dance 2021 concert. Guajardo continued to work with ECU dance students virtually to prepare for the concert.

“Being a versatile dancer with the ability to interpret a diversity of ideas and concepts is an essential skill for anyone wishing to enter today’s professional dance field,” said Jessica Teague, assistant professor of dance. “Therefore, an important part of our dance program is to provide students with opportunities to work with guest artists, like Andrea Guajardo, who are currently forging new pathways as leaders in the dance world.”

In addition to working with ECU’s dance students, Guajardo made connections with local and regional partners in eastern North Carolina.

“The Department of Educational Leadership engaged with local principals and district leaders with bilingual programs or a focus on the arts to provide local students access to the show,” said Dr. Larry Hodgkins, teaching assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership. “Many K-12 students are not familiar with what a university is like, such as being able to study performing arts. We viewed this as an opportunity to showcase ECU to local students and show them the diverse learning experiences that are available, all in the context of an engaging and authentic multi-cultural performance.”

Viewers of the Spring Dance 2021 concert will see Guajardo’s work fusing contemporary dance and traditional Mexican dance.

“Her choreography is both lyrical and dynamic; it is also demanding with intricate turns, powerful jumps and a distinct musicality,” Teague said. “Our students were challenged with the technical aspects of the work and also had the opportunity to add their own artistic interpretation to the various roles featured in the piece.”

The Spring Dance 2021 concert will be held virtually this weekend. Tickets are $10 for the general public and $5 for ECU students. To purchase tickets, visit the ECU Arts website.