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March 1, 2013
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab

Holland pens dance textbook

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - "Music Fundamentals for Dance," a new textbook written by Nola Nolen Holland, Slippery Rock University assistant professor of dance, resembles a "Best and Brightest" of the dance department.

The cover features two SRU dance graduates. Ten other pictures of current dance majors or dance graduates appear in the textbook along with Jaya Mani, SRU instructor of dance, who is photographed in traditional Indian dance attire. Fifty illustrations, prepared or drawn by Nolen Holland, complement the text.

The 123-page book, published in January by Human Kinetics, includes an accompanying online workbook available to purchasers via the publisher's website. Human Kinetics publishes information related to physical activity such as book, journals and audiovisual products.

"The focus of the textbook is music theory for pre-professional dancers, teachers and choreographers," Nolen Holland said.

The textbook merges music and dance and will help dancers develop an understanding of the elements of music and how those elements relate to dance performance, teaching and choreography. Nolen Holland, who covers music notation, form and structure, musical time, texture, melody and score reading, said the book will help dancers prepare for their contributions as future performers, choreographers and educators.

"Students will learn music terms, symbols, vocabulary and theory for easier communication with other dancers, musicians and conductors," she said. "Many dance students come to the University with very little music education. Prior to this text, the available music texts were for general studies music students, or conversely, they were almost a graduate-level text. I have written a text for dancers. It is an introductory-level text with music information that is linked to what dancers need to know. They need to know music fundamentals in order to communicate with a band, dance musician or conductor."

Nolen Holland said she has always had a connection to music, having grown up studying instrumental music, vocal music and studying voice in college and completing graduate-level music courses.

"Without an understanding of music theory, it is often difficult for dancers to analyze the complex music they might need to dance to or choreograph," she said.

HOLLANDThe six chapters are titled "Basic Concepts of Music and Notation," "Elements of Musical Time," "Elements of Melody," "Texture," "Reading Music Scores" and "Music Form and Structure." Each chapter ends with activity suggestions that offer students active learning experiences to connect music fundamentals to their dance training.

The accompanying Web resource includes chapter summaries, chapter glossaries, additional exercises, suggestions for projects and class activities based on each chapter's content, website addresses, downloadable music excerpts and printable handouts to help students practice music skills.

Every other year, the dance department stages a photo shoot for dance majors to obtain headshots, full-body and action shots of dance majors. Nolen Holland said she staged the cover shot and the book's chapter photos by recruiting the cast from her 2011 dance work, "Last Chance Dance."

"They were very accommodating when I asked them to help me create photos for the textbook," she said. The dancers on the cover are Zach Bergfelt and Krysta White, 2012 SRU dance graduates.

Two grants from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Faculty Professional Development Council and one from the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation enabled Nolen Holland to complete her master of fine arts and create the preliminary version of the textbook.

"For my research, I drew upon my music training, my professional dance background and scholarly Internet sources," she said. "I also spent years completing research in music libraries, scouring music resources and listening to music."

Nolen Holland said Glenn Utsch, SRU assistant professor of music, "helped me locate three particular music examples I needed for the book, plus he helped me sort through the validity of some of the external reviewers' comments and suggestions."

"Dance is certainly the number one priority in this context," Utsch said. "Music is a supportive role, but they're both artistic expression."

Rhyme Wan Chang, a 1994 SRU finance and international business graduate, provided one of the photographs for the book. As a student, he worked as a photographer for The Rocket student newspaper and photographed dance department concerts. Pam Frigot, SRU's director of international services, contacted Wan Chang when Nolen Holland needed permission to use one of his photos in the book.

Andy Hasenpflug, the dance department musician who teaches "Music for Dance," will begin using the textbook next fall.

"It is my hope that other professional schools, arts high schools and universities with courses similar to the one at SRU will adopt the textbook for their music course for dancers," Nolen Holland said.

She said the music textbook is distinctive because it focuses on music but targets dancers as the primary audience.

"When I taught SRU's 'Music for Dance' course, I learned that a majority of undergraduate dancers did not have a very strong music education," Nolen Holland said. "It was difficult to find information and materials geared to their basic needs. With this textbook, I have endeavored to fill a need in the dance literature with regard to music theory that is pertinent to and understandable to dancers."

The textbook is available at After purchasing the textbook, the cardstock page following the front cover includes a key code that gives readers access to the online workbook and music samples.

Nolen Holland, who joined SRU in 1989, specializes in teaching ballet technique. She also teaches or has taught "Introduction to Dance," "Principles of Dance Production," "Dance History 1," "Music for Dance," "Practicum II: Repertory," "Introduction to Creative Dance," "Dance Composition I" and "Senior Synthesis." She co-founded SRU's "Dance in India Initiative," an international summer dance study opportunity for dance majors to complete an in-depth exploration of classical Indian dance technique and performance in India.

Nolen Holland has also served as vice president for the dance division of the Pennsylvania State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, vice chairperson of the Pennsylvania Alliance for Arts Education and is currently president of the board of directors for CORPS de Ballet International, a professional organization for ballet teachers in higher education.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.