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NMSU Dance Program gets second life under leadership of new professor

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (KVIA) -- The New Mexico State University Interim Head of Kinesiology sat down with ABC-7 to explain the difficulties of teaching during the pandemic.

"Obviously not being able to offer face to face classes made it very challenging," says Christopher Aiken. "To do something that involves a lot of partner work and working together."

The NMSU Dance Program falls under the NMSU Kinesiology Program, offering both artistic and scientific perspectives.

The pandemic brought the program the verge of closure.

NMSU offered professors early retirement, and soon, the program was left with no one to run it.

"What what really saved us and kind of kept us above water during that time we have a couple of adjunct faculty members that were just fantastic," Aiken says.

They continued to teach and sustain the program until NMSU was able to hire Dance Professor Ryan McMullen.

"He was incredibly excited and said, 'Hey, there's not a lot here now, but he saw a lot of potential and just started getting involved', says Aiken."

Originally from Philadelphia, McMullen watched his sisters dance and he was struck with inspiration.

"I just grew really passionate about your growing as an artist, as a choreographer," says McMullen.

He became a dance professor and in less than six month, lead the program to double in size.

"And how he did that," says Aiken. "He had started to reach out to various organizations or different stakeholders."

At their lowest, the dance program offered five majors, now 10 are being offered.

"I always just want to make sure that the program is keep moving forward and upward at all times," says McMullen.

So far, McMullen has lead four major shows, with one of them being a sold out performance.

"We ended up having to get some extra seating," says McMullen. "Random chairs that we had around the building,  just to kind of get make sure everyone was seated."

He has big plans for 2025.

McMullen wants to invite guest performers to teach and mentor students.

Article Topic Follows: New Mexico

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Crista V. Mack

Crista V. Mack is a U.S. Air Force veteran who transitioned to news as a multi-media journalist.


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