In Memory of the Cornell Dance Program

Allen Fogelsanger

In 2010 Cornell University decided to cut the $4 million budget of its Department of Theatre, Film & dance by $1-2 million, primarily because its numerous non-tenured arts practitioners caused it to have unusually large expenditures falling outside its professorial budget. The dance area was particularly hard hit as its faculty consisted of one professor, four full-time lecturers and one half-time lecturer: within a few years it will be reduced in half to at most two lecturers and a professor. The dance major, which had existed since the 1970s, is being eliminated.

For Cornell's annual March concert in 2011, I wished to recognize the ending of an era during which the Cornell Dance Program produced many quirky and wonderful dances, and to note my own upcoming departure from the department. As Director of Music for Dance for twenty-three years I accompanied thousands of dance classes and provided music for hundreds of performances, and I attempted to encapsulate the range of my contributions, especially the essence of my playing for class, into music for Jumay Chu's dance Track Changes. I call this musical work In Memory of the Cornell Dance Program.

In Memory is a passacaglia based on a very slow presentation of the bass line of Pachelbel's famous and over-choreographed canon. The forty-six sections unwind over 24:32, touching a number of styles of playing I often used in class. The melodies hint at a tune not fully unveiled until the coda, Cornell's alma mater, Far Above Cayuga's Waters. The sudden recognition of the source of such disguised and distant variations was a common stimulus I provided for two decades of dance students.

The dance Track Changes, accompanied by the music In Memory of the Cornell Dance Program, was performed March 11, 2011, in the Schwartz Center's Kiplinger Theatre, by dancers Yasmin Fouladi, Jessica Gutchess, Julia Hellmich, Sara Keene, Stephanie Tan, and Alison Zaid.

In Memory of the Cornell Dance Program (2011) for digital media.

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