Over the last 29 years, the dance program at AACC has grown from two courses to a full degree program with a show each semester.
“I was in the right place at the right time,” Dance Director Lynda Fitzgerald said. “A lot of it is timing, but also, a lot of it is persistence.”
When Fitzgerald began teaching at AACC in 1987, the college offered dance history and jazz dance classes.
Because of low enrollment, the college canceled the dance history class that year.
But with Fitzgerald’s help as faculty adviser, students who had signed up for the canceled class formed the AACC Dance Company student club in fall 1988.
After a year of training and rehearsing, the AACC Dance Company held its first public performance at AACC’s annual Honors and Awards ceremony, which honors outstanding AACC students and faculty.
After the performance, the dean of Humanities offered Fitzgerald a full-time position at AACC.
Fitzgerald said to accomplish her vision, dance needed to break away from the physical education program, where the college classified it at the time.
“A 50-minute dance class wasn’t going to do it,” Fitzgerald said. “This course needed to be an hour and 15 minutes and to be honest, it should be under Humanities, not physical education.”
She said the chair responded by telling her to “go for it.”
Fitzgerald started creating courses, and in 1995, AACC added dance to the Performing Arts Department under Humanities as a degree program.
The college now offers 25 credit and 20 noncredit dance courses.
Fitzgerald said she brought her passion and determination to AACC.
“For me, dance is a great way to express yourself, and I have a great time,” Fitzgerald said.
Some of her students said they appreciate Fitzgerald’s hard work.
“[Fitzgerald] has this energy about her where you have to get up and dance—you know what I mean?” Elda Trombley, third-year transfer studies student and president of the AACC Dance Company, said.
“She’s been really nice and very supportive of her students,” Domonique Bobian, a third-year dance major, said.
AACC Dance Company will perform “Stepping Out” on Dec. 8-9 in the Kauffman Theater.