The Department of Theatre Arts offers comprehensive instruction and great performance opportunities in dance through our affilitation with Mississippi: the Dance Company. Dance classes and performance opportunities are open to all of our students as well as any student in the College of Liberal Arts. We offer classes in tap, ballet, jazz, modern, theatre dance, and dance composition.
We are a member of the American College Dance Festival Association, and every year students have the opportunity to travel to the ACDFA South Region conference. Students are also able to work and train with the nationally and internationally renowned guest teachers and choreographers who we bring in to our department.
There are performance opportunities in two dance companies: Mississippi: The Dance Company, the resident modern dance company of the university, and Ole Miss Student Dance, a student produced dance organization.
Mississippi: The Dance Company
In 1983, The Department of Theatre Arts hired John Henry, a highly acclaimed and award-winning dancer/choreographer from San Francisco, to become its first full-time dance faculty member. John accepted the position under the condition that the department would support a concert dance company under his direction. When he arrived in Oxford, he was asked what the company should be called. He thought a moment, then jokingly said, "How about something real original, like—Mississippi: The Dance Company?" Everyone had a nice laugh, but as the weeks wore on toward the company's first performances, no other name had surfaced; Mississippi: The Dance Company became our resident dance company's permanent name.
Current Artistic Director, Jennifer Mizenko, took over in 1989, and under her leadership, Mississippi: The Dance Company has become a major player among college and university companies, appearing regularly in Gala performances of American College Dance Festival Association. In 2004, the company achieved national finalist status and was invited to perform "Before Now and After Then" at the Kennedy Center in our nation's capital.
From its inception, modern dance has been the focus of the company's work, but all of its concerts have included an eclectic mix of jazz, tap, ballet, even hip-hop. The company even has its own signature modern Nutcracker, Mixed Nuts!, created by Mizenko, which has been performed three times for enthusiastic, sold-out audiences. In recent years Professor Mizenko has been applying her knowledge of Growtoski Physical Theatre and has created original dance theatre works for the company.