Visual and Performing Arts Department Chair and dance teacher Jennifer Whitcomb will travel to Latin America, among other places, during her 2012-2013 sabbatical, hoping to return with fresh understanding of dance.
Despite this temporary loss to the dance program, Ms. Whitcomb expects to broaden her knowledge in dance forms, immerse herself in community service, and learn more about dance-related technology.
Next year, Ms. Whitcomb will travel to the Caribbean Basin to study social and folkloric dance forms. She will be attending the 16th World Salsa Congress in Puerto Rico, where she will take Salsa classes and learn about its history. Ms. Whitcomb hopes to integrate Latin American dance into the dance curriculum upon her return.
“I would really love to one day team-teach a class with [Language Chair and Spanish teacher Virginia] Invernizzi that would involve Latin dance forms, language and history,” she added.
Developing her dancing ability, Ms. Whitcomb will spend time in New York City. She intends to pursue her certification in the Simonson Contemporary Dance Technique. Lynn Simonson was one of Ms. Whitcomb’s first dance teachers and her inspiration for pursuing professional dance.
Ms. Whitcomb will learn about dance-related technology at the Shenandoah University Dance Conservatory and the University of New Mexico’s Theatre and Dance Department. She expressed interest in ways that technology could influence her academic dance classes.
During her sabbatical, Ms. Whitcomb also hopes to establish a relationship between Deerfield and the Paulo Freire Charter School for Social Justice in Holyoke, Massachusetts— an institution where she plans to teach master classes in contemporary dance styles, and to help build its arts department.
The only downside? “I’m going to miss the kids a lot,” she admitted. “It’s the chance of a lifetime, but at the end of the day, I love what I do [here] and I’ll be sad to leave…even for a year.”