Rebecca Gangemella, a Southeast Missouri State University dance and journalism double major, has been selected to participate in the first ever Institute for Dance Journalism and Advocacy (IDJA) June 6-9 in Washington, D.C.
IDJA is partnering with the American College Dance Association and will make its debut at the 2018 National College Dance Festival. Gangemella, of Warrensburg, Missouri, is one of eight students who will participate. The other selected students are from Texas Christian University, Loyola Marymount University, Gonzaga University, the University of Montana, Grand Valley State University, California State University and Sam Houston State University.
“It means a lot to be selected to participate in IDJA,” she said. “It’s the first time this is happening, and I’m so excited to be part of the initial group to participate.”
Gangemella said being chosen has boosted her confidence in her decision to transition into journalism.
“I was forced to pick up a second major and drop down from a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance to a Bachelor of Arts due to injuries, and that was scary because I didn’t know anything else besides dance for most of my life,” she said. “But I’m finding ways to incorporate dance into my writing and my writing into my dancing, and this is one of the coolest ways I’ll probably ever be able to combine these.”
Gangemella and the other selected students will be writing reviews and critiquing them in round table format. They will interview, observe, reinvent, and respond actively to and with invited dances at the national festival performances, and interact with the rest of the festival, rather than working sequestered from it.
“I’m hoping to gain more experience on what it means to be a dance journalist,” she said. “This is the first time I can really hone in on writing for dance and for the arts. I’m hoping I can bring back these skills to the Southeast Arrow and the Department of Mass Media, primarily for Multimedia Journalism. If I could get an injured dancer to keep their dance dreams alive through writing, or get writers excited and interested in dance, then I’ve reached my goal. And I think IDJA will help me get closer to that goal.”
The institute is headed by Dr. Mark Charney, the director of theatre and dance at Texas Tech University. The institute was established to assist in elevating the level of arts criticism and to provide writers the opportunity to grow at the same pace as the artists, whose work they review and interpret.
Gangemella said she learned about this opportunity through Hilary Peterson, Southeast coordinator of dance, who, as a member of the American College Dance Association Board, received a call for writers to participate in IDJA. As part of the application process, Gangemella submitted an article she wrote on why ballet is necessary for athletes. In mid-March, she learned she was a finalist, after which she submitted a second piece – a critique of a pop music video.