New Professional Internship Class for Dance Students

dancers performing outside at Romare Bearden Park
Thursday, October 13, 2022
Four students are getting professional dance experience with Baran Dance Company.

This semester, the Department of Dance has introduced a new professional dance internship course. Thanks to Baran Dance, which is hosting the internships, this course allows four junior/senior dance majors to have real world experience in a professional dance company, specifically contemporary dance. The department has had a long-standing relationship with Charlotte Ballet by way of the Professional Training Certificate program. However, this new internship course gives a unique look into the life of a professional contemporary dancer, expands the department’s reach into the Charlotte community, and starts a new wave of growth for the dance body on campus. 

Baran Dance is a Charlotte-based contemporary dance company founded by UNC Charlotte alumna and Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance Audrey Ipapo Baran ‘03.  She describes her company as a group that “seamlessly blends bold physicality with thoughtful artistry and performs on stages, in galleries, at bars, and on sidewalks, creating work that is accessible and exciting for wide audiences.” The company is divided into three parts: Baran Dance Company (BDC), Baran Dance 2 (BD2), and Baran Dance Understudies (BDU).

The internship class requires that the enrolled students attend Baran Dance company rehearsals every Sunday at Open Door Studios in east Charlotte. The rehearsal is a total of six hours and comprises several different aspects. Student intern Anna Mayorga described the rehearsal activity: 

“Each week we take a company class and then split into smaller rehearsals. These rehearsals can be for festival performances, company duet or trio performances, etc. As understudies, we take class alongside all other company members, and in rehearsals we learn the choreography alongside the cast.” 

Mayorga said this internship has taught her discipline and the inner workings of a professional company, helped her establish professional connections in the dance industry, and has given her unique opportunities to perform. Most recently, the UNC Charlotte interns joined the Baran dancers for performances in uptown’s Romare Bearden Park as part of the Charlotte International Arts Festival (pictured above). 

The internship has further developed her love for dance and her drive to pursue it as a career, Mayorga said. 

“I believe this class has shaped my answer by presenting me with opportunities to explore every aspect of dance and work with others to gain an experience that has helped support my future career goals.”

The internship is an excellent example of the career preparation and community focused curriculum that the department and the College of Arts + Architecture strive to provide, and Dance Department Chair Gretchen Alterowitz hopes that this course will become a staple of the department’s offerings. 

“The internship with Baran Dance offers our students the opportunity to work with a professional contemporary dance company and make connections with the dance community in Charlotte,” she said. “An important part of preparing students for careers is to help them see themselves as future members of the dance profession, and this internship provides a mentored environment for real-world experience in a dance company. The relationship with Baran Dance is an important part of the Dance Department's strategic vision to support, strengthen, and contribute to the Charlotte dance community.” 

See Mayorga and the other interns, Aliyah Brewington, Julia Peterson, and Aiyana Shelton, perform on Wednesday, December 7,  at 6 pm in Robinson 118 in association with the Choreography 1 and Improvisation classes.