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Theatre and Dance have a deep and rich history at Kent State University.
The theatre program's roots stretch back to 1913 when Kent State students pursued theatre as an extracurricular activity. Formal theatre classes followed in 1926 and over the course of the next 20 years, Kent State's Theatre program developed into a major academic division with a national reputation. Formal dance courses began in the 1960s and by the 1970s the dance program was firmly established as an academic division. In 1994, the School of Theatre and the Division of Dance formally combined to become the School of Theatre and Dance. In 2004, Theatre and Dance joined the Schools of Music, Art, Fashion Design and Merchandising, and the Kent State University Museum to form the College of the Arts. The School of Theatre and Dance proudly celebrated its 100th Anniversary in the fall of 2013.
100 Years of the Performing Arts, 100 Years of History
1913: Walden Drama Club founded
1914: The Department of Physical Education begins offering dance classes in Folk Dance
1923: Interpretive dancing course offered for first time
1926: English Department offers first drama classes
1926: Natural dancing and clogging courses introduced in the School of Physical Education and Hygiene
1929: Kent State receives a charter to form a chapter of Alpha Psi Omega, the national honorary fraternity
1930: E. Turner Stump, newly hired English faculty member, combines fraternity drama clubs and Alpha Psi into the University Theatre producing group
1930s - 1950s: Under Professor Stump's direction, University Theatre transforms from a club into a nationally recognized major academic division. Two performance spaces are constructed for the Theatre Department.
1948: Professor Harry G. Wright, with permission from Professor Stump and KSU President George Bowman, arranges the lease of the Showboat Majestic from Captain T.J. Reynolds. The Majestic operated during the summer, sailing up and down the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers. The City of Cincinnati has owned the Showboat Majestic since 1967. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and as of 2013 was the last floating theatre in the United States.
1960s: Formal dance courses are offered in two studios located in the basement of Wills Gymnasium.
1968: Kent/Blossom Arts partnership is founded on the grounds of Blossom Music Center.
1969: Porthouse Theatre, the theatre component of Kent/Blossom Arts is founded by Louis O. Erdmann and William H. Zucchero. 500 seat Porthouse Theatre pavilion is constructed on the grounds of Blossom Music Center.
1970s: Dance curriculum is expanded to prepare for the offering of a degree in dance.
1980: New classrooms, a scene shop, and Wright-Curtis Theatre, named for G. Harry Wright and Earl E. Curtis, are added to the Music and Speech Building. This new "Theatre Wing" helped transform the building into a comprehensive learning facility for theatre and dance.
1980: First student to major in Dance graduates from the School of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance with a Bachelor of Science in Dance.
1983: The Division of Theatre parts ways with the School of Speech and becomes the School of Theatre. The new school offers BA, BFA, MA, and PhD degrees in Theatre. New professional theatre training programs are instituted and the school seeks to define the identity of the doctorate program as separate from the School of Speech.
1983: Professional dance courses are re-categorized from Physical Education to Dance.
1990: Kent Dance Ensemble established.
1993: Theatre faculty elects to adopt a more Master of Fine Arts degree focused in professional training and eliminates the doctorate program.
1994: The Division of Dance formally joins the School of Theatre after decades of unofficial collaboration. The school becomes the School of Theatre and Dance. Dance becomes a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree rather than a Bachelor of Science Degree.
2004: College of the Arts is formed, formally joining the Schools of Theatre and Dance, Music, Art, Fashion Design and Merchandising, and the Kent State University Museum.
2004: The School of Theatre and Dance is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Theatre and the National Association of Schools of Dance.
2006: Kent State University receives its largest capital gift in university history when the Roe Green Foundation pledges $6.5 million towards the new construction and renovation of what will become the Roe Green Center for the School of Theatre and Dance in the Music and Speech Building.
2010: The Roe Green Center for the School of Theatre and Dance is completed. Over 70,000 square feet of new and renovated performance, design, rehearsal and learning space is added to the existing Music and Speech Building, including new dance studios, a lighting lab, welding lab, scenic and costume design studios and labs, and the renovation of the Music Library into the Performing Arts Library. The new construction building also creates a new facade and street presence on Theatre Drive, a new lobby, and the Erdmann-Zucchero Black Box Theatre.
2013: The School of Theatre and Dance celebrates its 100th anniversary.
2015: The Kent Dance Ensemble celebrates its 25th Anniversary.