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Team Picture. One of Richard Havey’s Dance Classes for Seniors.
Photo by Brianna Vargas.  

A Passion for Dance: a Profile of Richard Havey
By Brianna Vargas

ROCK music blares out of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas dance studio. The room is lined with mirrors each featuring a different dancer’s concentrated face. Leading the elegant pack, solidly landing every leap and turn on the dance floor is one of the most prestigious multifaceted dance professors at UNLV, Richard Havey.

As affiliate associate professor, Havey teaches students of different levels the dance art form of jazz, improvisation, choreography and dance appreciation. With his extensive professional background ranging from America and Europe, Havey has an eye for finding exactly how to improve his dancers.

UNLV senior Ginny London works as a teaching assistant for Havey’s class. “He’s a great teacher,” London said. ” He’s able to get students to loosen up and have fun. He brings them out of their shell.”

UNLV sophomore Alina Copper fell in love with Havey’s teaching style and fills her schedule with his classes. “His class is always high energy,” Copper said. “I feel like I can really dig deeper.”

Havey’s love for dance began at the age of seven when he started training with his older sister. “I knew at a very young age I wanted to entertain and be on stage,” Havey recalled. “It didn’t matter if I was singing or telling jokes, I just needed an audience.”

Growing up in the Bay Area, Havey had many opportunities to expand and perfect his passions. In the beginning, Havey focused on the dance basics of ballet and tap and expanded to performing duos for shows with his older sister in companies, such as Chico’s Community Ballet Company.  They were featured in big hits, including “Brigadoon” and “Copacabana.”  He also landed a talent agent that booked the pair for disco shows. “I just wanted to perform anywhere,” Havey said.

Around 16, Havey found a new passion. He began singing in the church choir and quickly expanded his talents to playing the piano and organ. Havey returned to dance incorporating all of his perfected talents.

Two years later, at 18, Havey was accepted into Gus Giordano Jazz School in Chicago on a full-ride scholarship. There, he joined the Giordano Company and skyrocketed his dance experience. Havey joined the Ernst/Watson quartet in 1991 traveling to such places as Germany and Switzerland.

“I auditioned for a company in Zurich and packed up my things and moved in 1995,” Havey said.

After quitting the quartet, Havey remained in Europe, living in Switzerland for 10 years teaching and performing in Germany, Denmark, Italy and France.

In 2000, UNLV offered Havey guest residency teaching different areas of dance. Havey accepted and was awarded a full-time position in 2003.

“I started with lectures,” Havey said. “I was awarded associate professor. Then given the highest position for myself, affiliate associate professor of dance.”

With so much experience and contacts with European performing, Havey still teaches in Europe every year. “I’m teaching in April, May and June this year,” Havey said.

Havey began participating in a travel program in 2003 and invites several students to come along and perform. The group ranges from six to 10 students depending on the finance allowance. The students perform in Kieler Dance and Gymnastics Festival in Germany. This is an international dance festival bringing dozens of countries around the world together.

“I hold auditions for the positions,” Havey said. “I do individually select students too. They have to be older. I don’t want to have to play mom.”

UNLV funds the majority of the program and only requires students to pay half of the cost, $700. The festival sponsors the remaining cost.

“It’s a great opportunity for the students. A chance to go abroad to a different country,” Havey said. “We’re one of two groups that represent USA.”

London also accompanied Havey on this past summer’s trip.

“When I heard about, I wanted to go,” London said. “I was able to perform the Korean portion of the piece. It was a great experience teaching and performing.”

Although dance is such a large part of Havey’s life, he has many other talents and a life outside of UNLV. He is a certified massage therapist trained in Shiatsu therapy. “I work with energies in healing,” Havey said. “I move a person’s energies through their body.”

Havey teaches several classes around town including classes at European Massage School, Opportunity Village,  and a senior citizen dance course at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UNLV.

Havey got connected with volunteering at Opportunity Village by luck when an administrator contacted the UNLV dance department looking for a student teacher. “I’ve always been interested in working with physically challenged or intellectually challenged people,” Havey said. “I’ve never worked with them and wanted that experience.”

Havey immediately contacted the coordinator and came to a consensus of both parties’ interest. Havey’s class has turned into an outstanding dance therapy class. “I teach a dance therapy class that focuses on balance, coordination, while still having a good time and having fun,” Havey said. “This is something I have been wanting to do for a long time.”

He has such a passion in every aspect of his life, but believes dance is not done with him yet.

“There’s many things I’d like to accomplish after dance,” Havey said. One of Havey’s biggest goals is to create a senior citizen dance company. He wants to help others stay healthy and fit while making the most of their dance talents.

“I’m still entertaining and love to perform,” Havey said. “I’d love to continue working in the realm of healing.”

Brianna Vargas is a UNLV Journalism major with a background in graphic design, and has “a great passion for writing.” She plans to pursue a career as a magazine editor.

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