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A UA School of Dance Teacher Defends His Program

I am puzzled by a statement made by Margaret Regan in a recent article that celebrated the return of Dr. John Wilson to a more active status in the Tucson dance community ("So Into Beauty," Performing Arts, April 10). As a guest professor at the UA, I do not see the "gaping scholarly vacuum" in the School of Dance to which she made reference.

One of the reasons that this unique program has risen to prominence is its continuing emphasis on academic soundness and multicultural perspectives. Our graduate students are regularly invited to present their research at important seminars. Our dance and culture course, established by Dr. Wilson before his retirement, continues to present a non-Western perspective on dance and was commended at the most recent National Association of Schools of Dance evaluation for its sociological perspective.

I do not understand Regan's inference that there has been a lack of international perspective. Two classes in African dance are offered. Every member of the faculty has international credentials and experience that includes research, performing, teaching, choreographing and publishing. Last year, our students received grants and encouragement to study in Germany, Poland, Italy, Ghana and New Zealand.

Contrary to the impression Regan's article gave, the department is more vital than ever, performing six different programs a year before enthusiastic subscription audiences. Most of this year's graduates will be continuing their pursuit of a life involved with the performance, production, teaching and study of dance, including seven young men who leave with professional contracts in hand. More than 400 talented hopefuls have auditioned for the coveted 40 places in next fall's freshman class.

Regan needs to acknowledge the excellence of our faculty and recognize the national prominence achieved by the school under its present director, Jory Hancock. The department's current success brings honor to those who shepherded this unique program in its earlier days.

James Clouser


Claim: O'Sullivan's Horse Column Was Ignorant

Catherine O'Sullivan states that "some well-meaning but dumb equine activists lobbied successfully to pass a law banning horse-slaughter in the United States" (May 29).

O'Sullivan is wrong. The House of Representatives passed the bill, but the Senate never voted on it. If this bill were law, horses wouldn't be shipped off to Mexico since the bill has language which would prohibit horses from being transported there.

Incidentally, the captive bolt is not considered humane. Read this information on the Veterinarians for Equine Welfare Web site. If O'Sullivan reads this information, she'll see just how wrong she is about the bolt gun being humane.

Finally, this comment stands out to me and shows just how little O'Sullivan knows about horses: "Former race horses generally don't make good saddle horses for a few reasons. They're used up by the time they're retired, with myriad injuries, masked during their waning racing days by powerful drugs. They are trained to run around an oval as fast as they can without stopping. This is notoriously difficult to untrain." What a load of rubbish. We had a thoroughbred, and he was one of the best trail horses I've ever seen.

Duane L. Burright


Suicide: Sometimes, It's a Rational Thing to Do

Committing suicide is sometimes a very rational thing to do, as is increasingly acknowledged by the rise of living wills, advance directives and efforts to legalize the relatively common--but unacknowledged--practice of physician-assisted suicide. Your article did little to minimize the "stigma" ("The Stigma of Suicide," May 29).

Battles are constantly being waged by some religious and political people and organizations that promulgate the view that suicide is totally unacceptable or is to be discouraged, because it stems from a fixable physical or mental-health condition. Not so. It ignores a conscious act by a competent person as directed in a witnessed writing.

In the early 1980s, Tucson became the second and largest chapter of the now renamed and restructured Hemlock Society. Arizona has a large and growing membership in "right to die" organizations, of which there are many. Life ends, and there are those of us who, when possible, choose to exit with dignity on our own terms.

Martha B. Hopkins


We Were With You Until That Last Paragraph, Mimi

I would like to invite cat-trapper Scott Denton ("Trap Trip," Currents, May 8) to bring his traps to my La Madera Park neighborhood (just south of Winterhaven). La Madera is inhabited by a group of homeowners who accuse any neighbors of "lunacy" and "abuse" for not being thrilled to accommodate unconfined pet felines, as if failing to confine pet animals is not itself lunacy and abuse.

In late May, La Madera's neighborhood association e-mail list hosted eight messages either from or about a resident whose unconfined cat went missing. At the beginning of June, I contributed a suggestion about how to keep unwanted stray cats out of one's backyard and gardens (a squirt in the face of an ammonia-water mix

discourages the feline without injuring it). Now there are around 35 new messages on the list, many of them out for my blood. Denton's solution is looking better and better to me.

What do cats care about people? Online, I have found numerous news stories about dogs that saved their owners from certain death. There is a story of a potbellied Vietnamese pig who heroically risked death to attract a passing motorist's attention for its owner incapacitated by a heart attack--the owner survived after the motorist called 911. I have also seen a story of a pet parrot that saved its female owner from a rapist by repeatedly flying at the man and attacking him in the eyes until he ran away. Can anyone truthfully say he or she has ever seen a verifiable account of a cat rescuing its owner from peril?

Mimi Klaiman


Early Voting Discourages Discourse, Disregards Last-Minute Changes

Jim Nintzel and Emil Franzi ("Early Shift," Currents, June 5) both miss the boat on the downsides of early voting.

What if late events before voting day would change the wishes of the electorate? How about death, physical or mental catastrophe just before the day? What about happy or unhappy disclosures about the candidates? These do occur, you know.

Of course, both political parties urge early voting, because it freezes the electorate into early and ridged party platforms. It discourages real-time dialogue by the candidates with "live" voters as they approach the day.

While I sympathize with the convenience of early voting, what if 90 percent of voters cast their ballot a month in advance based on public-relations statements, and nobody cared what really happened afterward?

Brad Stroup


Corrections

In "Scramblewatch '08" (June 12), the parties of two Legislative District 27 candidates were in incorrect. J.D. "Duke" Schechter is a Republican, and Kent Solberg is a member of the Green Party. Also, Richard Elías was incorrectly listed as a Pima County supervisor being challenged; he is not facing an opponent.

We apologize for the errors.

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