In January of 2018, associate professor Shawn Bible stepped up as the Chair of the Dance and Theater Department (DTH). Bible began his Manhattanville career in the fall of 2016 after moving to New York from the Midwest two years prior.
In the upcoming years, Bible explained that he has a few big ideas for the direction of the program. Though he does not want to make any drastic changes just yet, his main goal is to redistribute the courses that the DTH department offers.
“I want to make the classes more impactful for the students,” said Bible.
More impactful classes would ensure that each acting and dance class are appropriate for the time of day that they are offered.
For example, holding a harder dance class, Modern III, at a later hour instead of at 9:20a.m. because the dancers are working their bodies more strenuously than the easier dance class, Modern I. Having the more technical classes at later hours would ensure that the dancers were sufficiently warmed up and ready to perform their best during the class time.
When Bible was first named chair, he wanted to reevaluate the DTH curriculum and estimate what technical and performance skill levels that each class offers.
“I want to try to asses where the students are now and move forward from there,” he said.
During the spring semester, Bible began reevaluating the curriculum and sat in on numerous dance and acting classes to assess what was being taught.
Because of the close proximity to New York City, having the privilege to bring in guest choreographers from different dance companies are also a goal that Bible wants to achieve in the upcoming semesters.
“I want to enhance the program so that students are excited to come to class every day,” explained Bible.
Having professionals in the field to come in and share their knowledge is a positive experience that each dancer can take away from class time.
So far, Bible brought in 10 guest artists into classes and performances during the spring of 2018. He also updated the Little Theatre by purchasing in new chairs and LED lights, which creates a better and brighter aesthetic when viewing performances.
The Box Office was updated and digital monitors outside of the Little Theatre were installed so that all the posters for upcoming productions can be digitally advertised.
Finally, Bible made sure that the DTH Department created online payments for Dance Concerts and productions, to try and bring more audience members to the events.
In each “First Friday” issue that Manhattanville sent out to faculty, Bible made sure that the DTH faculty was featured to show off all of their accomplishments and work, “we have very talented faculty, so I want their work to be highlighted and advertised around the community,” explained Bible. Having the professors featured is a great chance for the DTH Department to have their work emphasized throughout campus.
Bible also teaches at local studios in the Westchester County area to workshop and recruit for the Manhattanville program.
“[Manhattanville] can have a much larger presence than we do in the dance world of New York City, and the Dance and Theater Department could use a big push to get there.” explained Bible.
As the department expands, Bible explained that one of his goals is to decrease the credit load because the department has such an extraneous curriculum at 60 credits for the major. If the credit load was brought down, it would allow courses to be more rigorous.
Overall, Bible has big plans for the department and for the school.
“I hope that class sizes can be built up, so we can be choosier in who we let in,” explained Bible. He said that he doesn’t want a competition for new students, but a larger pool of candidates would allow for the program to be build up.