The University of Iowa

Global exchange opportunity for UI dance students

April 14th, 2021
Image of Eloy Barragán

Eloy Barragán

Eloy Barragán, associate professor in the UI Department of Dance, is passionate about the importance of international collaborations in higher education and the benefits gained by students as a result. “It is important for students to interact with another culture to gain new ideas and perspectives. It not only helps students start to know a different country and different ways of behavior, but it also helps them to build their global network—which is so important as a practitioner of dance—to really become an artist for the world because the community is becoming more global,” said Barragán.

Barragán feels international collaborations are even more important as a result of the recent Covid-19 pandemic, noting that the need for social distancing spurred creativity and innovation in terms of how we connect with each other, educate students, and conduct business.

Even after the pandemic is in the rear-view mirror, Barragán is skeptical that things will return to ‘normal.’ “The future is uncertain, but we will not go back to the way it was. While we are thirsty to hug our loved ones and move away from our screens, technology will continue going forward. Many institutions are grasping what is possible in terms of virtual collaborations that facilitate global connections,” commented Barragán. He went on to talk about the necessity of organizations—particularly colleges and universities—to think beyond geographic borders. “It’s vital to us as institutions to open our minds and have the ability to debate, share experiences, exchange ideas, and be open to opinions that are constructive challenges.”

“It’s vital to us as institutions to open our minds and have the ability to debate, share experiences, exchange ideas, and be open to opinions that are constructive challenges.”

As a result, Barragán is pioneering collaborations between the UI Department of Dance and two organizations in Mexico: the Escuela National de Danza Clásica y Contemporánea and the Compañía de Danza del Estado de México.

The initial fruit of these collaborations will benefit students from all three organizations during the annual International Dance Day celebration in two different ways.

First, from April 28-30, professors from the UI Department of Dance and the Escuela National de Danza Clásica y Contemporánea will lead students from both schools in a series of virtual Master Classes covering both contemporary and classical technique. UI professors involved with this effort include Barragán and Mindy Myers, assistant professor of dance. “One of the chief aims of the master class series is to show the resilience of dance and international collaboration in the face of the pandemic,” said Russ Ganim, associate provost and dean of International Programs at the University of Iowa, who helped to facilitate the partnership.

Second, students from the UI and the Compañía de Danza del Estado de México will enjoy a special virtual screening of curated films from previous Iowa International Screen Dance Festivals—an annual festival founded by Barragán which attracts film submissions from around the world—from April 29-May 1. UI students will have ample opportunity to interact with their counterparts in Mexico through Q&A sessions and roundtable discussions.

Anticipating upcoming International Dance Day collaborations and reflecting on the pandemic that necessitated moving beyond the conventional, Barragán said, “We were caught by surprise with the pandemic, which pushed us to be more creative, flexible, and innovative. All around the globe, we saw people express themselves through dance on virtual platforms, ranging from professional dancers to people dancing in their garage or backyard. Who would have thought that we would be teaching ballet via Zoom?”


Hear Eloy Barragán’s thoughts about the importance of international collaborations in this video.

     

Interested in learning more about the Iowa International Screen Dance Festival? Check out this video.

 

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