Josie Metal-Corbin

Profile By: Erin Arellano

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Part Three Collaborator Extraordinaire

Metal-Corbin joined UNO as an assistant professor and associate director of The Moving Company in 1980. Her goal was “[to meet] the mission of the University’s community engagement goal within UNO’s Strategic Plan” (Hunter 409). The Human Touch project was one of many events during the span of her career. Considering the sheer volume of people, organizations, and sites that she has worked with over the years, she has definitely provided visibility for the University.

She can be described as many things: dancer, choreographer, teacher; but she says it was her ability at collaboration that defined her career at the University of Nebraska Omaha. “In my drive to establish new alliances, build audiences, and make dance accessible to all I have experienced an impulsive and compulsive drive to find places and spaces for dance to happen, whether it is for advanced technique dancers, beginners or for persons with disabilities” (Hunter 408). What she loved most about collaboration was the ability to combine being a choreographer, an academic, and an artist in residence through the Nebraska Arts Council. One of her fond memories of this comes from an experience at The Durham Museum. In the fall of 2005, she offered free Latin dance classes every Sunday, at UNO in the dance lab. “There were farmers from Iowa who came in late because they had to finish their harvest. There was a pair of grandmothers coming in from somewhere – because it was free” (Metal-Corbin. 19 Apr. 2017).

Then Metal-Corbin broke the news that she was auditioning for anyone who wanted to perform at the patron party held prior to the opening of the Latin Jazz: La Combinación Perfecta exhibition at The Durham Museum in February of 2006. This was a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian. Metal-Corbin assembled nineteen couples and an 18-piece UNO jazz band, under the direction of Dr. Pete Madsen, which played the swing music, cha-cha, and various kinds of jazz and Latin music that were represented in the exhibition. She worked with various community partners so the troupe donned outfits from the 40s. She also engaged a hairdresser, so the music and costumes were as authentic as possible. The dancers made a grand entrance through the rows of patrons watching, performing a medley of dances before they exited.

During the final part of the collaboration, Metal-Corbin served as a Scholar in Residence. Students from Omaha and Iowa schools were invited to learn different forms of Latin dance through The Durham Museum’s outreach education program for the Latin Jazz: La Combinación Perfecta exhibition. Metal-Corbin’s UNO students, who were physical education majors, accompanied her to these classes. Metal-Corbin taught her students, who then taught these fifth, sixth, and seventh graders.  Like the Tim O’Shanter’s art classes at the Carnegie Museum of Art during her youth, Metal-Corbin had come full circle, providing a museum-based class for school students.

 

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Part Four But Seriously

Metal-Corbin is very proud of the fact that while most university modern dance programs are associated with fine arts or performing arts departments, The Moving Company and Dance Lab remain a part of the College of Education’s School of Health Physical Education and Recreation, which is historically unusual for modern dance. She has always tried to connect dance to the University’s goal of community engagement by connecting The Moving Company to academics and working in secondary schools, combining efforts with other university departments and community-based activities.

Metal-Corbin was engaged in an emerging 21st century genre of research and choreography entitled Public Scholarship and Site-Specific Dance. However, she didn’t realize that she was doing a particular kind of scholarship until one of her colleagues, Victoria Hunter, edited a book, Moving Sites: Investigating Site Specific Dance Performance. Metal-Corbin was asked to talk about