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group of dancers with arms in the air

A Dancing Legacy is Remembered

Written by Allison R. Stormo

Greg Halloran was more than just an instructor. The University of Idaho associate professor and coordinator of dance in the College of Education was like family to many who knew him on campus.

“He’s like your family. He’s like your support system,” said Veronica Pupava, a senior interior design major and dance minor.

Greg Halloran in maroon shirt and grey hatHalloran was found dead in his home Aug. 28 by police after a wellness check. Halloran, who had been battling an illness, is to believed to have died from natural causes. He was 50 years old.

Pupava said Halloran was always supportive of her when she found little support elsewhere.

“Dancers aren’t always taken seriously. But Greg always told me, ‘If you want to be a dancer, we’ll get you there,’ ” she said.

And even though Pupava needed to take a year off from dancing last year because of an injury, she said he always made her feel like a part of the dancing family.

She and fellow dance student Phil Sulzen say that dancers couldn’t help but feeling passionate about dance and their work when studying under Halloran.

Greg Halloran's Celebration of Life will be held Tuesday, September  25, 2012 from 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. in the University of Idaho's PEB building Dance Studio Room 110.  

His passion for dance and his involvement in Dancers Drummers Dreamers was one of the reasons Pupava decided to attend the U-Idaho. She met him while she still was in high school and he inspired her to leave Seattle for Moscow.

That passion was seen by many in the associate professor, who had been with University of Idaho since 2001.

“Greg gave everything he had to his work. Nothing was more important to him than his students and their learning. On a professional level, we will greatly miss Professor Halloran’s expertise and passion for dance. On a personal level I will very much miss Greg’s kindness, his care for equity and his ability perceive the big picture,” said College of Education Dean Cori Mantle-Bromley.

Halloran started dancing when he was 17 years old and went on to win many honors for his art. He received his bachelor of art degree in drama from California State University in 1988, his master of art in from The Ohio State University in 1991 and completed his master of fine arts in 1996 at Ohio State University. He also held teacher certification from the Dance Notation Bureau in New York City.

Starting dance as a teenager instead of a child is more difficult, Phil Sulzen said. But that determination translated to Halloran being particularly supportive of her not being a typical dance student. Sulzen served in the Marine Corps for two years before being medically discharged. She came to U-Idaho last year with a background in Irish dancing but wanted to study ballet. The transition to returning to civilian life and changing her dance focus was an extremely trying time for Sulzen. There were times that she felt like stopping.

“He wouldn’t let me quit. There was no question in Greg’s mind that I would be a dancer,” Sulzen said. Now, she is determined to move forward and continue to honor his memory.

“His death has made us realize what he was about, his courage, his understanding — and even what dance is all about,” she said.

Sulzen had her U-Idaho class ring inscribed with “Memoriam Halloran” so that she will have a physical reminder of Halloran.

She also started a Facebook group called “In Memoriam … Greg Halloran, Beloved Director and Friend.” Soon after it started, it had more than 200 members. As the news of his death spread, friends, students and alumni wrote messages of memories on the group’s page. “I will miss his smile and calm spirit.”

“He was such as a wonderful teacher and so passionate about dance.”

“I really admired how his heart and work were always in support of the journey and betterment of his students.”

“I will always remember Greg as an ally for the dancers in his program, always wanting the best for them and helping them reach their greatest potential.”

The symbol on the Facebook group is a paw print for his dog Cosmo. Halloran had a big love for his dogs and was a supporter of the Humane Society. He had two dogs, Cosmo and Ty, who were like his children.

Grace Goc Karp, program director for physical education in COE’s Department of Movement Sciences, says the dog park was a big part of Halloran’s social network. She jokes about Halloran’s soft heart that led to little training – and how his dogs ran the show in his house.

“Greg was always happiest when he was with his dogs,” she said.

After his death, Cosmo and Ty were sent to the Humane Society of the Palouse. However, they didn’t have to spend much time in the facility.

“They went to good and loving homes,” said Meagan Lepire of the Humane Society of the Palouse. Lepire said friends of Halloran adopted the dogs the day after they arrived.

Colleague Belle Baggs, clinical assistant professor of dance, said she and Halloran used to talk about their dogs frequently and he helped watch her dogs when she was out of town.

While Baggs has only been with the university since 2011, she felt Halloran immediately was extremely supportive of her and really rallied for the program.

“The thing I loved about it, was that as soon as I got here, he was so willing to give me autonomy,” she said.

Cindy Barnhart, director of Festival Dance and Performing Arts Association, said that he was the kind of guy that when you met him you knew he was fully engaged and listening.

“He was not only creative and could get along with everyone, but could be analytical and specific,” she said in referring to him being an expert in Labanotation, the system to break down dance movements by using symbols.

Halloran’s work earned him a number of grant awards including from the National Endowment for the Arts, Inland Northwest Foundation and Paul G. Allen Foundation including a project to restage a piece via Labanotation.

Barnhart worked closely with Halloran for more than six years in her role with Festival Dance.

“Greg was a wonderful, sweet, man — a mentor to many of us, to each of us in different ways,” she said. “He was a valuable champion of Festival Dance.”

He was given University of Idaho Alumni Award for Excellence in 2007 and 2010. He was named Dance Educator of the Year by the Northwest District American Association of Healthy, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance in 2005 as well as Dance Educator of the Year by Idaho Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance in 2005.