Big Muddy Dance Company Visit SIUE

Paula David working with SIUE dance studentsFor the last two weeks SIUE’s Department of Theater and Dance has been host to The Big Muddy Dance Company. As part of their visit the group has been working with students at all dance levels and trying to help them set practical goal for turning the skills they learn in college into a life long career.

“We call ourselves contemporary jazz because we want to differentiate ourselves from a pure modern company or a ballet company,” Artistic Director Paula David shared, “My dancers take ballet class every morning and then train in all forms of dance so they can really do anything.”

The Big Muddy Dance Company began on paper three years ago and in the studio two years ago in response to the lack of professional dance companies in the St. Louis area. David noted that while there were training programs like those at SIUE and Wash U to train dancers there was little work in the area so most professional dancers were having to move away to start their careers.

“We’re trying to fill that gap so those dancers can get a professional career out of college,” David explained.

The company currently employes thirteen salaried dancers and is growing. Aside from staging performances the group spends much of their time organizing workshops and training programs, particularly ones aimed at grads who are trying to fill the gap between graduation and establishing a career.

The company spent their time at SIUE teaching classes, engaging in Q and A sessions, and focusing on mental fitness training. David shared that one her main goals for the students was to help them get a sense of direction to help motivate them after they graduate. She also shared how impressed she was with the quality of students she had encountered on all experience levels.

“They’re fantastic,” David Shared, “They move really well, they don’t have any quirks or rough edges we need to smooth out, and they’re really open minded.”

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