Two dance faculty and eight students recently attended the American Colleges Dance Festival Association (ACDFA) Conference at Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pa. This year’s northeast region conference was attended by more than 500 participants from 23 colleges and universities including The College of William and Mary, Dickinson College, Hofstra University, Hollins University, Muhlenberg College, NYU Steinhardt, Temple University and Towson University.
ACDFA is a national organization dedicated to supporting the role of dance in higher education, primarily through the sponsorship of regional dance conferences. Participating institutions may bring two pieces to present in public performance before a panel of adjudicators who provide feedback on the choreography and performance. Beginning Wednesday, March 9 with a guest artist concert by the world-famous Urban Bush Women, the conference featured four days of master classes, five adjudicated and two non-adjudicated performances, a Dance on Film festival, screen dance installations and a dance criticism “Kamikaze Writing Workshop.”
Professor of Dance Cynthia Williams and Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance Kelly Kavanaugh taught at the conference and were inspired by the enthusiasm for dance that permeated it, as well as by the engagement of the HWS students who took full advantage of the myriad opportunities of the conference.
Williams taught three classes over the four day conference: two Rommett Floor Barre classes and a Bill Evans (modern dance) technique class. Kavanaugh taught a Jamaican folk forms class and was honored to have members of the renowned Urban Bush Women company take her class on Saturday afternoon.
William Smith students attending the conference included senior Marissa Biondolillo, sophomores Megan Colburn and Kathryn Lamardo, and first-year students Bonnie Bushnell, Karah Charette, Jenna Davidson-Catalano, Emily Dove and Sara McKinney. The students took four dance classes a day from among offerings in African dance, ballet, ballroom, contemporary jazz, hip hop, improvisation, Middle Eastern, modern dance, musical theater styles, partnering, tap, and yoga, and participated in workshops on Alexander technique, choreography, dance on camera, and goal setting and career planning.
In addition to classes, the Hobart and William Smith contingent attended the four concerts, many of the feedback sessions, and the Saturday night Gala Concert featuring the conference’s best works as selected by the panel of adjudicators. Charette and McKinney performed Charette’s piece “Oh My God” in Saturday afternoon’s Informal Concert.
“Their performance was beautiful: confident, strong, expressive and technically superb,” says Williams. She reiterates the words conference host Karen Dearborn wrote in her welcome, in saying she and her colleagues and students “Were able to ‘rejoice in the dancing of our peers…and to bring these new knowledges and perceptions’ back to our home campus. We left invigorated, inspired and full of appreciation for the community engendered by this incredible art form, dance.”
The photo above was taken of several of the HWS dance students and Kavanaugh at the American Colleges Dance Festival Association conference.