History of the Dance School of UFBA

The Dance School of the Federal University of Bahia was born in 1956 as one of the projects for the creation of new schools led by the Rector Edgar Santos in a fertile period of cultural renewal in the university scope of the 1950s. In this perspective, two years after the “Seminars of Music” which were held in 1954, the School of Theater and the School of Dance were founded.

The Dance School had its foundation consolidated by means of an invitation to the Polish director Yanka Rudzka (1956-1959 management), and was later pedagogically reformulated by the invited German director Rolf Gelewsky (1960-1965 management). Recognized as the first of its kind in higher education, throughout its history it has become a reference center for modern dance in Brazil and South America, it has developed itself into a contemporary dance profile, often translating into aesthetic advances and innovative critical spirit.

As a higher educational institution, the School is structured as an autonomous unit, in accordance with the General Rules of UFBA. Its structure and functioning observes specificities and competences to spread knowledge pertinent to the field of dance. In its institutional complexity, the UFBA School of Dance brings a history of agglutination, sustaining for several decades the position of pioneer in teaching, research and extension in dance. In its trajectory it has formed generations of knowledge-multiplying students, with a dedicated technical-administrative staff and qualified teachers, the majority of whom are trained in dance, with doctorate degrees and post-doctoral degrees from abroad.

Initially founded following the styles of Modern European Dance, more specifically of the lineage of German Expressionist Dance, the School remained for 28 years as the only university in dance education in Brazil. The importance of the UFBA Dance School is due, in large part, to Professor Doctor Dulce Aquino, who, since 1966, assumed the direction of the School for several administrations, dedicating her life to the School, making it potentially grow and extend over time. The hallmarks of Profª Dulce Aquino's leadership of the Dance School are the numerous teaching reforms, curricular adaptations, new artistic- pedagogical methodologies, and the significant advances in the struggle for recognition and voice to aphrodiaspore expressions, gender diversity, in addition to broadening of discussions on accessibility. It is also worth mentioning the consolidation, together with the teaching and technical-administrative staff, of the sociocultural contribution of dance education at the University in response to the demands of society, through the implementation, in the 1980s, of Preparatory Courses, Free Courses, Specialization and Extension Courses, that guaranteed the wide access of the local community to the universe of investigative dance.

Facing the artistic-academic demands of Brazilian society, the School of Dance, in a constant process of producing and updating knowledge, is also a pioneer in the creation of Postgraduate courses in Dance. In 1985, it implemented the Lato Sensu Specialization Course in Choreography, advancing at a national level in yet another degree of higher education in dance. For 14 years, this course was supported by the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel - CAPES, and played a unique role as a qualification center for professionals from different regions of Brazil. In 1998, in partnership with the UFBA Theater School, the Dance School participates in the creation of the Postgraduate Program in Performing Arts - PPGAC / UFBA, which offers Master's and Doctorate courses. Throughout these years, PPGAC / UFBA has streamlined production and academic training in the Performing Arts through various publications and research, having achieved and sustained a score of 6.0 from CAPES 'evaluation since its implementation.

In 2000, an important cooperation project between the Dance Schools of UFBA and the Program in Communication and Semiotics of the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo - PUC / SP begins, through the Institutional Qualification Program of CAPES - PQI / CAPES. This cooperation led to the implementation of important actions at the School, such as updating its courses with a view to creating an environment suitable for dance as a field of knowledge. In 2003, the Specialization in Contemporary Studies in Dance was implemented, and the Advanced Body Research Laboratory - LaPAC was created, which gains new incentives through the support of the Pro-Rectory for Research and Graduate Studies at UFBA, the Foundation for Support to Research and Extension - FAPEX, and CT-INFRA / FINEP financing, a fund for the modernization and expansion of infrastructure and support services for research developed in Brazilian public institutions of higher education.

In 2004, the School of Dance Memorial Project was created, later defined as a permanent program designed to raise, organize and disseminate the School´s memory. Later, it was resumed and reorganized in its objectives with greater amplitude, changing to be called Memorial of Dance of UFBA and counting with documentary researches and training activities on the production of digital collections, artistic and aesthetic memory, with statements and narratives of groups and personalities from the Dance of Bahia and Brazil.

The School has grown exponentially in recent years and today offers four Undergraduate courses in Dance: Daytime Bachelor's degree in dance, Night time and Distance learningp Bachelors Degree in dance with license for teaching. In addition to these courses, it offers curricular components for other undergraduate courses and for the concentration areas of UFBA's Interdisciplinary Bachelor's Degrees. It has two postgraduate programs: the Postgraduate Program in Dance (PPGDança) and the Professional Postgraduate Program in Dance (PRODAN). PPGDança was created in 2006 offering a Master's degree (Stricto Sensu) and a Specialization Course in Contemporary Dance Studies (Lato Sensu). In 2019, the Program implemented the Doctoral Course in Dance - the first public and free in the world. The School is also a pioneer in the creation, in 2018, of PRODAN, with the Professional Master's Degree in Dance for professionals with a consolidated career in creation, teaching and management.

The UFBA School of Dance has developed by training competent professionals, who today are found in different parts of the country working in research, teaching, creation and artistic production of Dance. It has also been contributing, in a unique way, through its courses, covenants and institutional partnerships, for the updating and recycling of various professionals from other states and even from other countries. In the scope of artistic and academic research, the School has been contributing intensively to produce knowledge in the most varied lines of research, in order to meet the diverse configurations of / in dance, in the face of the aesthetic and conceptual changes that are present in the contemporary world.

In relation to artistic groups, these have always developed from artistic-academic research by the School's community, generating around 400 choreographic works. These groups are: Contemporary Dance Group, Youth Dance Group, GDC - UFBA Contemporary Dance Group, Odundê Group, Experimental Group, Image Group and Tran-Chan Group. The latter was supported in the 1980s and 1990s as a resident group, developing independently and becoming known in Brazil and abroad.

The GDC - Contemporary Dance Group of UFBA is a permanent program of the School, created with the purpose of complementing the training of undergraduate students, especially for those who chose to pursue a bachelor's degree. Its consolidated career is due, on the one hand, to the countless professionals who contributed to its repertoire of shows and, on the other hand, to the institutional support for representing the School with activities and functions of a permanent nature in UFBA. Since 2017, it works in two modalities: Experimental Contemporary Dance Nucleus and Contemporary Popular Manifestations Nucleus.

The School also houses the following resident groups: Grupo X de Improvisação; Grupo Bambá, formed by teachers and musicians; Rapadura with Urucum & Dendê Group; and Grupo Coisa de Pretxs, formed by students.

The School is also historically recognized for being a catalyst instrument for artists and institutions. One of the most important factors for this recognition is the fact that the School maintained, for twenty years, the holding of the National Contemporary Dance Workshop (1977-1997), with actions that supported and justified its presence in the Brazilian dance scene. The realization of the Workshop, for two decades, brought together emerging vanguard groups that invested in language research, both in Brazil and abroad, which resulted in a great impetus for the development of national dance in its most innovative and creative ways.

It is important to add that the School incentivated and was one of the institutions responsible for the fights for the creation, in 2008, of the National Association of Dance Researchers - ANDA. In various periods since the founding of ANDA, the School has been the stage and has been at the forefront of decisions in scientific meetings and organization of congresses and committees. In 2019, the School hosted the VI National Scientific Gathering of Dance Researchers and was chosen as the venue for the 6th ANDA Congress.

In 2022, the Dance School inaugurates a new area which expands the building and has three floors connected by stairs, panoramic elevator and accessibility ramp, measuring approximately 4,000 m².

This achievement marks an important stage in the extension plan of the Dance School, which in the last decade has considerably expanded its performance through the creation of new undergraduate and graduate courses. The expansion also enables the following objectives: to provide means of accessibility and other facilitations appropriate to the demands of the internal and external community; expand the specific spaces for dance classes; better meet the needs of administrative functioning; to offer environments for the artistic, cultural and social interaction of students, teachers and administrative technicians; accommodate professors with offices offering better research conditions, class preparation and academic guidance.

We continue to build a plural Dance School within the Federal University of Bahia, a public, free and high standard institution.