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Spotlight: Grad student uses professional experience to teach dance

BY ALYSSA MARIE HARN | NOVEMBER 16, 2010 7:20 AM

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Iowa City residents shouldn't be surprised if they see Kevin Schroder purchasing socks the next time they're at CVS.

"I go through a lot of socks," the University of Iowa dance graduate student said.

Schroder said he uses 36 pairs of socks each year because he never wears shoes when he dances.

Schroder is a second-year graduate student in the UI dance department, and he teaches three yoga classes as well this semester.

Schroder began his college career at the University of Arizona with plans of becoming a professional painter. But he signed up for a dance class, and he hasn't stopped dancing since. Schroder left his life in Arizona and moved to New York to pursue a career as a dancer.

"I was looking for a way to combine my painting and my physical nature, and dance just seemed to make sense," the 48-year-old said. "I just kind of threw myself into it."

During his time in the Big Apple, Schroder performed with many well-known choreographers and composers, including Lar Lubovitch, John Cage, and Stephen Petronio. The dancer also spent two years in the world-renowned dance troupe Merce Cunningham Dance Company and two in the Donna Uchizono Dance Company.

Melissa Carroll, a UI dance major who was in Schroder's improvisation class last spring, said his professional dance experience makes him a great teacher.

"[It] allows him to present the material well," the junior said. "He was a unique dance teacher; he didn't really have a set curriculum. He let us explore our creative minds and focus on being present in class."

After 10 years in New York, the dancer returned to Arizona at the age of 31 to complete his undergraduate degree. He also joined the now UI Associate Professor Charlotte Adams' dance company, Tenth St. Danceworks, and became its assistant artistic director.

Schroder and Adam have been friends since he first started college, and they have remained close since, performing in each others' dance pieces while also learning from one another.

"I was wonderfully challenged by his movement," Adams said. "His choreography was very different and challenging for me to nail as a performer."

Adams said the UI dance program is lucky to have Schroder here as a teacher because of his amount of knowledge and experience with dance.

"He encourages the students, but he also challenges them in many ways and expects good work from them," Adams said. "He draws upon his experience as a professional dancer and all that he learned from that."

With 30 years of dance behind him, Schroder plans to continue working in this artform. He has started researching Fulbright grants, and after he gets his degree, he hopes to teach dance composition in a European country such as Slovakia or Montenegro.

"I don't speak a different language, and I think it will be really interesting to teach in a foreign country," he said.


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