Susan Levine Ourada

Associate Professor of Dance, Area Head for Dance
Area of Focus: Dance

Department Head, Dance 

Susan Levine Ourada, MFA came to Nebraska from New York City via New England. She was an Assistant Professor at Fitchburg State College, outside of Boston, Massachusetts. She has also taught at Smith College, in Northampton, MA, Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA and Keene State College in Keene, NH.

Professor Levine is presently collaborating with Dr. Carrick Detweiler of the UNL Department of Computer Science and Engineering, the Lied Center for Performing Arts and Pilobolus, the internationally renowned Modern Dance Company. In this project, students from the UNL Dance Program and those from Computer Science will be working together under the guidance of the Pilobolus dancers to create a piece using the remote controlled flying saucers, that are featured in the Company’s newest creation, and which are integral to Dr. Detweiler’s research. This piece will be premiered at the Lied Center prior to Pilobolus’ October 12th performance.

Most recently, Levine’s dancers, both current and former students, were featured at a Garden Tour that attracted over 2000 visitors. Dancers performed structured and free-form improvisations for over 3 hours to an audience of delighted and often new-to-dance viewers!

In addition to these new projects, Professor Levine has been working since 2010 on a project with Jeff Curtis, a dance for camera artist, on the metamorphosis of a work commissioned for a proscenium performance, to one for camera. This project is part of a Undergraduate Creative Activities and Research Experiences (UCARE) project. With this support, Levine has worked with 3 students who have assisted her in all phases of this evolution, which will culminate in a short film including professional musicians and singers, shot in natural locales using University dancers.

The original piece was commissioned by the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra and premiered in February 2010. Crossed Purposes, performed to Richard Strauss’ Suite for 13 Winds in B-Flat Major, Opus 4 was an investigation of the duality of human mind, expressed through the investigation of Strauss’ own ambivalence of moral conduct during World War II.

Levine also created work with two other colleagues, Dr. Therees Hibbard, Dr. Garrett Hope and Dr. Eileen Hebets. Professor Levine and Dr. Hibbard created a piece for dance and voice with two dancers and Hibbard’s University Chamber Singers to Leonard Bernsteins’ The Lark, a work about the trials of Joan of Arc. This was premiered at the Nebraska State Capital. Dr. Hope, a composer, using the research of Biology Professor Hebets, created a sound score based solely on the sounds elicited by the Schizocosa spider. Levine’s dance was based video of these spiders and the resulting work, very un-spidery, was premiered at the Kansas Dance Festival and also shown at the Capital concert.

Professor Levine’s work has also been recently brought to the University of Vermont’s Dancing UpHill series with UNL dancers as well as with a commission to create work on the Vermont dancers. In addition to this, she and Paul Besaw created a new work, Triple Standards that was made independently and collaboratively, both on students and for themselves and premiered in Vermont with a subsequent run in Nebraska. In addition, Levine was part of a commission from Millersville State University in Pennsylvania for a dance and clarinet project involving setting three established works: Easy on the Eyes, 5 Versions of Maybe and Into the Monster’s Lair on dancers there.

2007 was an especially busy year for Professor Levine culminating with the Waterford Festival of Light Opera, in Waterford Ireland, where the UNL production of "Most Happy Fella", which she choreographed, won 6 prizes including the top prize for the production, the first time a non-European production took home that honor.

That year also saw the beginning of a three year Doris Duke Charitable Trust Creative Campus Grant in which Levine was a co-primary investigator and allowed she and her students to work intimately with Troika Ranch, a New York City and Berlin, Germany based company that combines dance, theater, and interactive digital media.

In July 2007, Ms. Levine choreographed and danced in a new work to Mark Schultz’s composition for clarinet and piano. This world premiere, entitled Into the Monster’s Lair, was performed with Drs. Diane Barger and Mark Clinton, at the International Clarinet Association in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. In 2005, Ms. Levine had her first collaboration with Dr. Barger in an evening-long concert devoted to clarinet works for dance, in which three pieces were choreographed: Welcher’s Dante’s Dances, Daniel Dorff’s Mr. Mouse Dances and Dies and Cahuzac’s Arlequin. In the same year, Ms. Levine collaborated with Anthony Falcone and the UNL Percussion Ensemble, with the Lou Harrison work, Canticle. More recently, in Spring 2007, with Dr. Therees Hibbard, Levine choreographed and co-directed Menotti’s The Unicorn the Gorgon and the Manticore with the UNL Chamber Choir and 12 UNL dance majors.

In 2006, Levine and photographer Fred Schneider joined forces to create a multimedia piece using photography. Photos of the dance, shot from all perspectives except those which would be seen by the audience, where projected in enormous scale behind the dancers. As the dancers moved so did a streaming slide show of the same dance, viewed from angles that the viewers would not normally be privy to. This piece, “Miss”, was invited by the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery to be shown at the opening, and three itinerant installations, of the exhibit entitled, “Painting Music: Rhythm and Movement in Art. Ms. Levine has been commissioned by the University of Vermont to recreate this work for their dancers In 2008.

Since 2004, Ms. Levine has been the Director of the annual faculty and guest artist dance concert at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This series of concerts was renamed “Evenings of Dance” in honor of her first modern dance mentor, the late Alta Lu Townes. In addition to directing the event, Ms. Levine choreographs new works each year including (re)mission, Plains Truth, Thoughts of Merce and Cage (a collaboration with the UNL Percussion Ensemble) Prom part dance/part theater, that looked at the contemporary American high school social event, as expressed through the myth of Prometheus.

In 2002, Levine presented a fully choreographed, musical version of The Call of The Wild, Jack London's classic tale, at the Edinburgh Festival-Fringe, in Scotland.

Keene State College invited Ms. Levine in 2000 to create a piece for their students. The result, thanks to a collaboration with Designer Celine Perron, was a dance performed on a multi-level, multi-angled series of platforms, including one that allowed a dancer to seemingly walk off the stage into the sky. Ms. Levine has performed for Susan Waltner, Brenda Divelbliss, Kelli Edwards, Paul Besaw, Marcia Murdock and was a member of the Dianne Eno Dance Company, performing in New England and New York City.

In the scholarly arena, Professor Levine worked with Music Theorist, Dr. Gretchen Foley on a dance piece that was based on an exploration of how familiarity with Perle’s twelve-tone tonality, as analyzed by Dr. Foley, impacted the choreography of George Perle’s String Quartet No. 5. This work was accepted for presentation at both the International Conference of the Society for Music Theory in Baltimore, MD and the College Music Society in Salt lake City, UT both in November 2007. Levine was also a primary investigator on projects submitted to the National Science Foundation: CreativeIT Pilot: DANCE: Dynamic Adaptive Networks for Creativity Enhancement in Arts Application.

In 2004, Ms. Levine presented a paper “The Male Gaze in the Classic Dances of India and the West” at the Nebraska International Multicultural Exchange Conference, with Jyothsna Sainath, investigating the comparative gender roles in western modern dance and the Indian dance form Barathanatyam.

Ms. Levine is presently on the Board of Directors of Arts Are Basic, and has served the Nebraska Arts Council on numerous occasions and the Wisconsin Arts Board as a grant reviewer. She was also on the Board of Directors of the Grand Monadnock Arts Council, in New Hampshire.