Ulster University closes moving arts Dance degree course
Dance professionals have told of their sadness after Northern Ireland's only third-level moving arts degree ended.
Ulster University confirmed its BA Honours Dance course at Magee Campus in Londonderry has been discontinued. The course's closure was mooted in 2015 following an internal review which led to the cessation of 53 part-time and full-time degree courses across the university's three campuses.
It has led to an angry reaction across the dance community.
Niall McCaughan, manager of Derry's Playhouse Theatre, where on Wednesday night final year undergraduates held the last ever Ulster University Dance Showcase, said: "I'm incredibly disappointed that the dance degree at Magee has been cut completely. It's a sad indictment that here, in the former UK City of Culture, we've lost dance as a third level qualification.
"This particular dance degree fed into so many other creative spheres across Northern Ireland and it's such a shame that Northern Irish dancers will now be forced to study across the water or even further afield to achieve their goals."
Echo Echo Dance Theatre Company, one of the longest running professional dance companies in Ireland, has for decades benefited from the UU's steady stream of dance graduates. It offered UU students post-graduate opportunities from its Magazine Street studios in Derry, welcoming several into its acclaimed ensemble since launching in 1991.
Steve Batts, Echo Echo artistic director, previously taught on the UU's dance degree course.
"This source of young and developing dancers with potential to be influential creative movement artists no longer exists for us," Mr Batts said.
"It will make our long-term project of sustaining a committed, high quality, internationally connected and Derry-based ensemble much more difficult."
Former UU students also voiced regret. Award-winning Irish and contemporary dance teacher and choreographer Bridget Madden added: "It's a sad time for Northern Ireland's dance community."
Ulster University confirmed the BA Hons Dance degree would no longer be offered.
"In 2015, the Ulster University remained committed to teaching the course to existing students from 2015-2017 and one individual is currently employed on a temporary fixed-term contract basis to deliver on this commitment," a spokesman said.
"There are currently two students in final year and five students undertaking modules in dance on a part-time basis, however, there will be no loss of student places at the Magee campus as these will be reallocated across other courses."