Three Dance Department faculty members and 13 HWS students recently participated in the American College Dance Association (ACDA) Northeast Regional Conference where members of the group performed in adjudicated dance concerts, informal dance concerts and a faculty-performed dance concert. They also had the opportunity to participate in more than 137 dance classes and hear feedback from three renowned adjudicators.
The conference, held at SUNY Brockport from March 9-13, ended with a gala concert featuring 11 pieces selected by the adjudicators from among 44 dances. An HWS piece was chosen for the gala for the first time in more than two decades of ACDA appearances, with the significant honor going to the cast of Assistant Professor of Dance Kelly Johnson’s “In the Palm of Our Hands:” Ellie Cherry ’18, Ingrid Dehler-Seter ’16, Ashley De Los Santos ’17, Lester Gamez ’19, Becky Shawn Geisinger ’18, Krista Kogler ’19, Sarah Kloos ’18, Bandeja Munir ’18, Drew Scammell ’18 and Elizabeth Strano ’16. In addition to the performers, Morgan Drake ’16 and Elizabeth Herbst ’17 were part of the HWS group at ACDA.
Johnson says the dancers in “In the Palm of Our Hands” were “extraordinary with each individual bringing his or her best to the work, endowing their dancing with personality, honesty and passion.”
Their group’s strong performance and group connection communicated the social justice theme of the choreography and was praised by the adjudicators who commented: “This is a community I would want to live in. This is a human network.”
“We were honored to be selected to perform a second time among other dance powerhouses including Rutgers, Montclair and Temple universities,” says Kloos. “We inspired a conversation about social change through movement and a few carefully chosen words. At the end of the weekend, our success was measured not by the strength of our muscles but the bond we created with each other.”
In addition to the opportunity to perform in the first adjudicated concert and the final gala, Kloos, Scammell and Mark Curiel ’17 performed Cherry’s “Linear Dimensions.” Created in the fall of 2015 as a final project in the course “Composing Works,” taught by Professor of Dance and Coordinator of the Social Justice Studies Program Donna Davenport and Assistant Professor of Music Mark Olivieri, Cherry’s piece features a live rendition of Curiel’s original music composition “Linear Dimensions” and was performed by Curiel, Kloos and Scammell.
In the Thursday night faculty concert, Johnson performed her solo “Daily Reflection” to great praise. The 12 pieces featured in the faculty concert included faculty members from SUNY Brockport, SUNY Geneseo, Adelphi University, Raritan Valley College, University of Rochester and Nazareth College.
Dance Department faculty members contributed four classes to the ACDA class offerings: Associate Professor of Dance Michelle Iklé taught “Intermediate Jazz,” Professor of Dance Cynthia Williams taught “Intermediate Modern Dance,” and Johnson offered two classes: “Jamaican Dancehall” and “Jamaican Folk Forms.”
Students and faculty members participated in a variety of classes, which ranged from ballet, jazz, hip-hop, tap and world dance forms to explorations of dance composition, drumming, experiential anatomy, improvisation, partnering, tango and yoga. World dance forms included Afro-Caribbean movement, Afro-Cuban Orisha, Brazilian Hand Balancing, Capoeira, Classical Chinese dance, Jamaican dance, Pacific Island dance and Samba. With 68 faculty members representing more than 40 schools, the class offerings were diverse and distinctive.
“Each one of us crafted our own schedule, unique to our goals for the weekend. We left some classes filled to the brim with inspiration while others qualified as more of a learning experience. We never knew what to expect, but this unknown became our delight,” says Kloos, describing the rich menu of classes.
The American College Dance Association is a national organization founded in 1973. Their focus is “to support and promote the wealth of talent and creativity that is prominent throughout college and university dance departments,” and its sponsorship of regional conferences provides the opportunity for students and faculty to participate in master classes, workshops, panels and performances, exposing them to “the diversity of the national college dance world.”