Josie Metal-Corbin

Profile By: Erin Arellano

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Part Eight Part of a Legacy

Josie Metal-Corbin is cognizant that she inherited a well-established, progressive dance program from her predecessors. “My success is predicated on the work of my successors in The Moving Company: Ruth Diamond Levinson and Vera Lundahl” (Metal-Corbin. 26 Apr. 2017). Ruth Levinson Diamond founded Orchesis in 1935, and directed the University’s chapter of this nationwide honorary club for modern dance, for which faculty sponsorship was provided during the early decades. Orchesis became The Moving Company in 1973 under the direction of Dr.Vera Lundahl.

She is also very grateful to Lauren Kotulak Bartels, who was the first student Metal-Corbin met at UNO. She also has been her Associate Director from 1993-2015. Metal-Corbin said Kotulak Bartels provided inspiration and counsel, and contributed artistically and administratively for the proscenium-based concerts and the site-specific works, the Sunday classes, and the everyday tasks. Without her, Metal-Corbin maintains, she would not have been able to run a successful company.

Professor Metal-Corbin has carried her inherited legacy forward, and the stage is now painted in much broader strokes, from the proscenium stage to the pedestrian bridge, to the prairie. Most would declare her career, “mission accomplished.” However, even though she has retired from her position as director of The Moving Company, Metal-Corbin has no plans to stand idly by because “resting” is not something she is comfortable doing. As a result of her need to keep moving, Metal-Corbin asserts that she is “taking a big leap” in her new career trajectory: “I’m not going to dance. I’m not going to be a consultant. I’m not going to be an Artist in Residence. I’m working with literacy” (Metal-Corbin. 26 Apr. 2017). As much as she vows not to dance, she will continue her passion for movement through the connections she makes in various communities and in whatever enterprises she pursues.

Currently she visits the refugee center at Yates Community Center in Omaha, Nebraska, to do a drop-by dance for about twenty minutes on Wednesdays. She says that when she arrives, the principal says, “It’s Wednesday! On Wednesday we Dance!” There are mothers with preschoolers who hail from Syria, Sudan, and Central America. Her plan was to provide a stress-management class for the moms with pre-schoolers, but she spoke English, and they did not. There were no translators, so the session became all non-verbal with experiences in dynamic relaxation, dance, and QiGong, which has a choreographed sequence of movement. Translated from the Chinese, QiGong literally means life energy cultivation, which she demonstrates in a warrior-like pose where she very slowly lunges with one fisted arm outstretched. Then her posture slowly changes to one less intimidating, and she says, “and then their faces change.” They are in the moment of moving. She is there only for 20 minutes. “We dance for three songs, and then I go” (Metal-Corbin. 26 Apr. 2017).

Metal-Corbin’s students are mostly younger now, but perhaps she is responding to the gifts from an earlier legacy when she herself was chosen as a Tam O’Shanter. On Tuesdays and Thursdays she works with literacy at Omaha’s Dundee School. She’s there for two hours and works one-on-one with students to improve word recognition and reading. She thinks their third grade teacher, Mrs. Tingelhoff, is wonderful with the children. In addition to teaching the children manners and citizenship, she also in a kinesthetic approach to learning, which Metal-Corbin helps to facilitate with her energy. Who knows what treasures these Dundee students and children of immigrants will carry with them into their future, all for having been exposed to the zest for life that exudes from Josie Metal-Corbin with every move she makes.