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The discipline of dance

Alan Flurry

The RedandBlack highlights UGA dance faculty and students, and the enduring appeal of artistic expression through movement:

Most student-professor relationships are contained within a classroom and last for a semester. But the faculty at the University of Georgia Department of Dance have a more lasting bond with their students. Their lessons are taken from the classroom to the studio and onto the stage. The department may be small but contains a dedicated faculty, and each of their unique backgrounds makes an impact on the department.

Assistant professor Elizabeth Stich is a UGA alum who spent 20 years traveling and dancing across the United States. Her performances went past the traditional stage and into festivals, fairs and theme parks. Last year, she returned to UGA and brought her experience with non-traditional dance forms into the studio.

“There is performance work that's in that more commercial context that can be accessible to our graduates in a way that sometimes the traditional model [is not],” Stich said. “I'm happy to be able to share that.”

Stich also specializes in aerial dance. This semester, she’s teaching two sections of aerial dance technique. She hopes that her students will start to choreograph their own pieces in the future.

“There's a real sense of empowerment and agency that comes from aerial dance,” Stich said. “There's not one body that's necessarily the right body to have for aerial, but it's more figuring out how your body can relate to this apparatus and how you can problem solve within that.”

Since returning from her years traveling, the nostalgia has been very strong for Stich.

“Going back down into the dressing rooms and not being a student anymore, being faculty and using that dressing room is a mind shift that has taken me back,” Stich said.

Her favorite part of teaching is being able to create with her students and form close connections with them. As she reflects on her own fears as an undergrad, she advises her students that everything will work out in the end.

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Image: Elizabeth Stich teaches the aerial dance class at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023. (Photo/Laney Martin)

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