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From Paris to SoCal: New CalArts Dance Dean Brings Multimedia Front and Center

Chamblas and students staged a flash mob at the university president's inauguration. Photo courtesy of CalArts

He might have just had a long day of rehearsals prepping for a performance at the Paris Internationale art fair, yet Dimitri Chamblas is energized as he talks about his new role. The 42-year-old took over this year as dean of The Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), and his enthusiasm for the future of dance and dance education is contagious.

"We want to keep recruiting diversity of techniques and bodies, because the future of dance is that," says the former artistic director of Paris Opéra's creative digital platform 3e Scène. "We want students who have temporality, space, precision—where you can consider your body as a space for exploration—and we want to help them develop their singularity and creativity."

As an artist, Chamblas connects dance to the visual arts, filmmaking, new media, digital production and architecture. His past collaborative partners have included Benjamin Millepied, RubberLegz, William Forsythe and Lil Buck.

Photo courtesy of CalArts

"We have to concentrate on how to prepare students for the actuality of a dance career," Chamblas says. A dance career no longer means joining a company until retirement, so he wants his students to learn how to perform or choreograph for nontraditional spaces, social media, films, photography and commercials. Classwork will include guidance on writing business plans, photography/videography tips (in front of and behind the lens) and advice on creating a dance company.

Chamblas' international dance connections will help land guest artists, and he envisions the school being more integrated into the Los Angeles dance scene. He also plans on starting a CalArts dance company with its own repertoire. "Dimitri brings a fresh point of view and vision for the dance program," associate dean of dance Cynthia Young says. "His energy is inspiring and unrelenting."

CalArts president Ravi S. Rajan says that in Chamblas' short tenure, he has already motivated students with such projects as a flash mob during the school president's inauguration ceremony. "This work directly demonstrated the relevance of dance to our lives," Rajan says.

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