The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

Haas Endowment for the Performing Arts helps GV students prepare for careers

Courtesy GVSU

The Thomas J. and Marcia J. Haas Endowment establishes a “margin of excellence” in Grand Valley State University’s performing arts programs. The endowment allows students in the GVSU Music, Theatre and Dance department to apply for grant money in order to pursue different projects.

The endowment offers opportunities for funding that student scholars may not have access to otherwise. This money helps to further students journey in their future fields, to hone their skills through competitions, summer programs and other educational experiences. The endowment aims to create experience that help to extend the knowledge students learn at GVSU into the broader community and world.

The Haas Endowment was started in 2022 as a way to support GVSU students in the performing arts. Since the endowment’s inaugural year students have done many different projects including international trips for music and training programs for their artform.

Mary Kovalcheck, a recent GVSU dance graduate, is one grant recipient who benefited from the Haas Endowment. For her project, she attended the American Dance Festival (ADF) Summer Dance Intensive in North Carolina earlier this summer.

Alongside other dancers, she studied, created, researched and networked with artists, helping to advance her professional skills. The festival allowed her to learn from other dance companies’ performances and even rehearse with Brian Brooks, a professional choreographer.

“My biggest takeaway from this learning experience is knowing that you have nothing to prove but everything to share,” Kovalcheck said. “I realized that the festival is intended to bring a diverse community of dancers together in order to share their knowledge and help each other prosper as artists.”

Kovalcheck said her experience at ADF wouldn’t have been possible without the Haas Endowment and being a Haas Endowment scholar wouldn’t have been possible without GVSU’s dance program. She expressed her gratitude for the support she has received as a performing arts student. 

“The dance program has ensured my preparation for the professional world by strengthening my technique and giving me a proper dance education,” Kovalcheck said. “I am grateful for the connections I’ve made and wouldn’t be the dancer I am today without this department.”

Like Kovalcheck, another recent dance graduate Grace Kitching also attended ADF for her Haas Endowment summer project.

“I had the opportunity to create a dance film to be presented at the Student Choreography Concert film showing,” Kitching said. “There were instructors, choreographers and students from all over the world and around the country, so I was able to connect, network and learn from new perspectives as well as make lifelong friends.”

Kitching said her summer project provided the “perfect transition” between college and her future as a professional dancer. The experience taught her even more about the beauty of art and dance.

Kitching said she is grateful that the GVSU dance program and the Haas Endowment provided her with an eye-opening opportunity that has set the foundation for her future career.

“The dance department at GVSU truly feels like a safe space and a home,” Kitching said. “I am forever grateful.”

The Haas Endowment opens application during the term in order to give students the opportunity to pursue projects not only in the summer but throughout the year. The grants can be applied and are issued on a quarterly basis after being reviewed by the endowment’s committee.

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