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WVU students dance across Guatemala

Dance students in Guatemala

The Dance program at West Virginia University held their inaugural study abroad class this summer with a 14-day trip to Guatemala.

Led by WVU Director of Dance Yoav Kaddar and dance faculty members General Hambrick and Matt Saffron, 10 students spent weeks rehearsing choreography and learning about Guatemala’s culture before embarking on the trip that took them to the country’s most prestigious dance studios and universities.

Dance students in Guatemala

In Guatemala City, the group visited with the Dance and Research Center at Universidad Rafael Landviar, Escuela Nacional de Danza, the School of Fine Arts at Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala and Ballet Moderno y Folklórico Nacional de Guatemala. The students then traveled to Antigua to visit Club Finca Columbia.

Dance students in Guatemala

“The trip was mutually beneficial for our students and those we met in Guatemala,” Kaddar said. “Our students were able to soak in another culture through the art of dance while we showed the Guatemalan people a bit about American and Modern dance." 

WVU students also provided dance lessons to local children and performed informal presentations with question and answer sessions to teach the general public about American dance.

“We were able to provide children with knowledge about American dance that they otherwise would probably never be exposed to,” Kaddar said.

Students also visited museums, art shows and ancient ruins while in Guatemala. Brooklyn Moran, a senior dance major, considers the trip life changing. 

“Teaching the kids in Antigua was the highlight of my trip – they were so anxious to learn our styles of dance,” Moran said. “This trip was good for our education because dance can take you anywhere and you need to be able to adapt to wherever you go. I believe that everyone who attended this trip came back with a different perspective of the world. This trip will be a memory that I will look back on forever.” 


Classmate Tyler Detrick agrees, saying “this trip was important to my career because it made connections and expanded my horizon in the dance world. The best ways to experience all that dance has to offer is to travel and find new approaches to this art form. This trip allowed us to connect with professional dancers in a different setting that absolutely adore dance. The arts are about community, and a career in the arts is no different. A small world begins with bridging the gaps between cultures.”