Five College Consortium

Five College Dance Department

Delfos Danza to restage company work with FCDD dancers

[Omar Carrum]Omar Carrum and Claudia Lavista of acclaimed contemporary dance company Delfos Danza will be restaging company work Lleno y vacio with dancers from all five FCDD campuses. The piece will be performed on the fall faculty concerts at both Smith and Mount Holyoke Colleges. 


Delfos was founded in 1992 by Mexican choreographers/dancers Claudia Lavista and Victor Manuel Ruiz with the vision of creating dynamic new works in the spirit of collaboration, as well as developing a professional training program for contemporary dancers.  

[Claudia Lavista]The company is a unique collective of artists whose creative vision is characterized by the fluid physicality and poetic narratives within their diverse repertory. Delfos’ work has been presented throughout México as well as in Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Bolivia, Peru, Canada, the United States, Italy, Spain, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea and Greece.

Delfos has received worldwide critical praise, as well as several major international awards for dance, including: The Mexican National Dance Award in 1992, 1997 and 2002; Best Dance Company in Mexico as chosen by the Critics Union; the Artistic Merit Award in Brazil; and the Best Show Audience Award at the XXV Lila López International Dance Festival San Luis Potosi in 2005.

Delfos had the distinct honor as the only Mexican dance company selected to tour extensively in the United States in the fall of 2004 with the support of the National Endowment for the Arts in association with the National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts. The tour included a successful week-long run at the Joyce Theater in New York as part of the Mexico Now Festival. In 2005-06, Delfos returned to the United States with the support of Artes Americas. Delfos continues to tour yearly in the U.S.

In 2004, 2007 and 2009 Delfos was honored to be chosen for the Professionals Artistic Groups Scenic Arts Mexico en Escena Program from Conaculta, which is given to the most prestigious artistic companies in Mexico.

The company has maintained a constant interest in the creation of projects in collaboration with creators of other artistic disciplines, which has allowed us to work with outstanding national and international artists of different disciplines and visions.

Since 1998, Delfos Contemporary Dance has run the Mazatlan Professional School of Dance (EPDM), which offers a Bachelor of Arts degree program. Today Delfos and the EPDM are recognized as two of the most important contemporary dance organizations in Latin America. Their home base is the Angela Peralta Theater and the Municipal Center for the Arts in Mazatlan, Mexico.

Hampshire College welcomed Deborah Goffe to the faculty in fall 2014

Deborah Goffe, performer, dance maker, dance educator, video artist and performance curator, joined the Five College Dance Department in fall 2014 as Assistant Professor of Modern/Contemporary Dance at Hampshire College. Since founding Scapegoat Garden in 2002, the Hartford-based collaborative dance theater company has served as a primary vehicle and creative community through which Deborah has explored the intersection of dance with other media. Through Scapegoat Garden’s performance works in venues and festivals throughout the region, its laboratory for creative process at The Garden Center for Contemporary Dance and its related community engagement programming, Deborah has sought to forge relationships between artists and communities, helping people see, create and contribute to a greater vision of ourselves, each other, and the places where we live.  In 2012, Deborah was honored by the Connecticut Dance Alliance for Distinguished Achievement in Dance, and participated as New England Emerging Artist in Residence at the Bates Dance Festival in 2010.  She has received Artist Fellowship Grants from the Connecticut Office of the Arts (2013, 2005), the Greater Hartford Arts Council (2007), and the Surdna Foundation (2008). A graduate of the University of the Arts (BFA, Modern Dance) and California Institute of the Arts (MFA, Dance Performance and Choreography), Deborah recently earned a Professional Certificate from Wesleyan University's Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance where she explored curatorial practice as a way to nurture the health and vitality of local dance eco-systems. As a dance educator, Deborah has taught dance and related courses in a number of institutions, including Belmont High School in Los Angeles, California Institute of the Arts, CREC Center for Creative Youth, Trinity College, CulturArte (a youth arts summer residency program in Cape Verde, Africa), Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts and Wesleyan University. 

Deborah Goffe headshot by Peter Dressel

Prayers for the Wayfarer, Natalia Carignano (SC '17), Julia Antinozzi (SC '18)
Choreography by Rodger Blum 
Photo by Jim Coleman

River's Song, Akshaya Tucker
Choreographed by Ranjanaa Devi, UMass Fine Arts Center
Photo By Charles Flachs

Seep Sleep, FCDD dancers
Choreography by Kinsun Chan
Photo by Jim Coleman

Delfos Danza's Full and Empty, FCDD dancers
Choreography by Claudia LaVista and Omar Carrum
Photo by Derek Fowles

Nutcracker Suite: Danse of the Floreadores, University Dancers
Choreographed by Laura Naratio (UM '12)
Photo by Jim Coleman

Candice Salyers FCDD Visiting Artist
Photo by Jim Coleman

Pilobolus Dance Company's Megawatt, FCDD dancers 
Choreography by Pilobolus
Photo by Jim Coleman

Arena, Kayla Collette
Choreography by Tom Vacanti
Photo by Jim Coleman

Sundiata, Sandra Friedman (SC '18), Nyasha Franklin (MHC '19), Alexandra Leite (HC '16)
Choreography by Marilyn and Sekou Sylla, Five College Lecturers in Dance
Photo by Jim Coleman

too bad it's nothing, Idalia Buddington (HC' 09) and Anna Wotring (UM '15) 
Choreographed by Madison Palffy (HC '14)
Photo by Jim Coleman

Galaxies, Paul Matteson, Amherst and Mount Holyoke College Professor 
Choreographed by Paul Matteson
Photo by Jim Coleman

Gallim Dance's Wonderland restaged with FCDD dancers  
Choreography by Andrea Miller
Photo By Jim Coleman

The Whole of Happiness, FCDD dancers 
Choreographed by Rodger Blum
Photo by Jim Coleman

Do Run Run, FCDD dancers
Choreographed by Jim Coleman and Terese Freedman
Photo by Jim Coleman

(re)Birth, Deborah Goffe, Hampshire College Professor and Leslie Frye Maietta, UMass Visiting Artist
Choreographed by Deborah Goffe
Photo by Jim Coleman

[div 3 concert photo for article]

Serenade by George Balanchine
Five College Reperatory Project, 2004
Photo by JIm Coleman

Tacit Affinity 
Mount Holyoke Faculty Concert 2012
Photo by Jim Coleman

FCDD Musician Sekou Sylla. Photo by Jim Coleman

Rodger Blum's Hanging Dresses
Smith College 
Photo by Jim Coleman

[UMass Informal Concert 2015 poster]

[Poster for Flamenco performance at MHC]

2015-16 FCDD Banner

Olana Flynn

["Flux" UMass Informal Concert 2015]

More Clearly in Dreams



Rendered Emerging Choreographers




[Turvey lecture poster]Dr. Michael Turvey Lecture Event
Action And Perception At The Level Of Synergies
Monday, March 9 at 4:30pm (4:00pm tea)
Weinstein Auditorium, Smith College 

Dr. Michael Turvey is responsible for publishing the work of Nicholai Bernstein's seminal book On Dexterity and Its Development, a Russian text that is the foundation for motor control research, and which was almost lost to the world because of the KGB censorship. Turvey will discuss Bernstein's work in his lecture.                                      

Dr. Turvey ranks among the world’s most accomplished research scientists in the field of psychology. He is widely known for his pioneering work in the ecological approach to perception (focusing on laws and principles at the scale of organisms and their environments) and in applying dynamical systems theory to the coordination and control of movement.

Dr. Turvey has been the recipient of many awards and honors, including Guggenheim and Cattell Fellowships, the Early Career Award from the American Psychological Association (APA), Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, APA Distinguished Scientist Lecturer, Glushko-Samuelson Distinguished Cognitive Scientist Award, Honorary Doctorates from Vrije Universiteit (Amsterdam) and Florida Atlantic University, the Bernstein Prize in Motor Control, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Experimental Psychologists. 

Dr. Turvey received his Ph.D. from Ohio State University in 1967. He joined the University of Connecticut in 1967 and the Haskins Laboratories in 1970. His awards include a Guggenheim Fellow, the American Psychological Association (APA) Early Career Award, Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Cattell Fellow, Honorary Doctorate Free University of Amsterdam, APA Distinguished Scientist Lecturer, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor (University of Connecticut), Fellow of the Society of Experimental Psychologists, American Psychological Foundation F. J. McGuigan Lecturer, Fellow Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Ohio State University Distinguished Alumnus, and President of the International Society of Motor Control.

He has published over 340 scientific articles, produced more than 40 PhDs, and taught more than 27, 000 undergraduates. His research on perception and action and their inter-relation follows James Gibson and Nicolai Bernstein in emphasizing the search for general laws and principles. His research on visual word recognition pursues the key role of phonology in reading identified by Alvin and Isabelle Liberman.

[Five College Faculty Concert 2015 poster]

[Reboot poster]

Hampshire College Winter Dance Concert 2015

Photo by Jim ColemanAs student choreographer Jamila Jackson asserts, “Dance is a space that can hold the wildness of life.” 

Hampshire College's Winter Dance Concert 2015 employs movement as a way to face fears, honor the humanity of vulnerability, embrace the vastness we all embody and ask some of life’s big questions. The evening is rounded out by a lively excerpt of John Heginbotham's Manhattan Research.

Don’t miss a beautifully eclectic event where professional and student dance makers share the fruit of their creative labor together.


Performances February 12-14 at 8:00pm, Hampshire College Main Dance Studio, Amherst, MA. 

Reservations are recommended and may be made by calling (413) 559-5889 or emailing

Tickets are $10 general, $5 students & seniors. Handicapped Accessible.

Master Class with Sean Dorsey

[Sean Dorsey]Fresh off his triumphant performance at Smith College with his company, Sean Dorsey Dance, Sean Dorsey will teach a master class on Wednesday, October 1 at 1pm in the Scott Dance Studio at Smith College. The class is open to the Five College Dance community. Just show up!

Master Classes and Open Rehearsal with Delfos Danza this Weekend!

[Delfos Danza photo]On Saturday and Sunday, September 27-28, Omar Carrum of Delfos Danza will teach open modern/contemporary class from 10:00-11:30am. Both classes will be held at Smith College: Saturday's class will be in the Crew House; Sunday's class will be in Scott Studio. There will be a sign-up sheet. First come, first serve for FCDD dance students. Dancers should wear long pants and a shirt that covers their shoulders for floor work.
On Sunday at 4:00pm, the cast of the Delfos project will do a run of the piece in Scott Studio. The rehearsal is open and the dancers would love the support of anyone who wants to come and be in the audience!

[Fall 2014 Auditions Poster]

Leslie Frye Maietta

2014-15 FCDD Banner

Master Classes with Alonzo King LINES Ballet on Monday, April 28

[Prince Credell in Alonzo King's Before the Blues. Photo Marty Sohl]The morning after their performance at the UMass at the UMass Fine Arts Center (tickets stil available), company members from Alonzo King LINES Ballet will be teaching two int/adv ballet technique master classes for the FCDD community. There are a small number of open spots available in each class. Please email Joanna Walker if you would like to reserve one. Make sure to say whether you are interested in the master class at UMass or the one at Mount Holyoke College. Joanna will let you know if there is still space in the class.

  • Master class in Tom Vacanti's Ballet 4/6 in Totman Rm. 13 at UMass, 9:15-11:00am
  • Master class in Charles Flach's Int. Ballet in Studio 3 at Mount Holyoke College, 10:00-11:15am

FCDD dancers to perform at the Kennedy Center

[undigested logic]FCDD campuses represent two of three colleges invited from the New England Conference to perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. this June as part of the American College Dance Festival (ACDFA) National Festival. Hampshire College and UMass Amherst both have dances that were chosen for the National Festival. Smith College was also invited to perform, but had to turn down the honor. The third participating college is The Boston Conservatory. 

In total, nine FCDD dancers will perform at the Kennedy Center. UMass Amherst's contribution to the concert, new ballet Before/After choreographed by guest artist Jennifer Hart, features an all-female cast of eight:

Celine Barreau (MHC '16)

Nadia Belkin (SC '14)

Allison Dancewicz (UM '15)

Annie Heath (UM '15)

Emily Relyea-­Spivack (UM '15)

Alanna Sade-­Milberg (UM '16)

Katherine Taylor (SC '15)

Margaret Wiss (MHC '16)

Before/After was originally performed on UMass Amherst's University Dancers concert in December 2013. FCDD adjunct faculty member Jen Polins served as rehearsal director in the fall, with the guidance of Paul Dennis, Assistant Professor of Dance. Thomas Vacanti, also an Assistant Professor of Dance, will serve as rehearsal director in the spring. Jennifer Hart will be back in late May to rehearse with the dancers for a few days to make sure the piece is at its best for the Kennedy Center performance.

Hampshire College's contribution to the Kennedy Center performance is undigested logic, a solo choreographed and performed by senior Ailey Picasso. This dance explores the development of Picasso's personal movement vocabulary within themes of introspection and conversation between self and environment. The work premiered at ACDFA's New England Regional Conference in Boston in February, and was also performed in Picasso's thesis concert in April. Undigested logic is a compilation of structured improvisation amidst set phrase work and as such the piece retains the ability to fluctuate and change with every performance.


John Heginbotham to create a new work on FCDD dancers

[John Heginbotham photo by Janelle Jones]Brooklyn-based choreographer and performer John Heginbotham will create a new work on FCDD dancers this year. Starting with an intensive week of rehearsal during the last week of August, the cast will work throughout the fall semester on the dance, which will be performed on the University Dancers Concert at UMass on December 5-6, 2014. UMass Assistant Professor of Dance Paul Dennis will serve as the rehearsal director.

Founded in 2011, Dance Heginbotham is a performance group devoted to the presentation of dance and theatrical work created by John Heginbotham. The work of the company features highly structured, technically rigorous, and theatrical choreography, frequently set to the music of contemporary composers. The company had its world premiere in January of 2012 on the Millennium Stage at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and has since been presented by the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Carolina Performing Arts, among others.


In addition to his work with Dance Heginbotham, John’s choreography has been seen at Dance Theater Workshop, The Museum of Modern Art, Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater, and the New York and Toronto Fringe Festivals, among other venues.  He has created work for the Cork Opera House (Cork, Ireland), Dartmouth College, The Juilliard School, Purchase College, Princeton University, Long Island University, The Wooden Floor (Santa Ana, CA), Big Apple Baroque, Oasis Theater (Minneapolis, MN), art/pop group Fischerspooner, and the cabaret artists Lady Rizo and the Assettes and Our Lady J.  A frequent collaborator with live music, John has worked with numerous composers and ensembles including string quartet Brooklyn Rider, Alarm Will Sound, the Raymond Scott Orchestrette, Jesse Blumberg, Colin Jacobsen, Gabriel Kahane, and Shara Worden (also known as My Brightest Diamond).  John is a two-time recipient of the Jerome Robbins Foundation New Essential Works (NEW) Fellowship Grant.   In December 2013, he choreographed Isaac Mizrahi’s Peter and the Wolf at the Guggenheim Museum, and will collaborate with Mizrahi again in June 2014 on The Magic Flute at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. 

Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, John graduated from The Juilliard School in 1993, and was the recipient of the Martha Hill Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Dance. He has danced in the works of Pam Tanowitz, John Jasperse, Rebecca Stenn, Janis Brenner, Allison Chase, David Neumann, Ben Munisteri, Stanley Love, Vanessa Walters, and Pilobolus Dance Theater (guest artist). From 1995 – 1998, he was a member of Susan Marshall and Company, originating roles in her evening-length works, The Most Dangerous Room in the House and the award-winning dance opera composed by Philip Glass, Les Enfants Terribles.  John was a member of the Mark Morris Dance Group from 1998 – 2012.  As a member of MMDG, he performed across the United States and internationally with artists including Mikhail Baryshnikov, Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax, The Bad Plus, Zakir Hussain, and with opera companies including The Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, and the English National Opera.

As a teacher, John offers dance master classes in the United States and abroad. He has taught at institutions including the University of California, Berkeley, George Mason University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Washington, and The Laban Centre in London. He is currently on faculty at Princeton University and the Mark Morris Dance Center, and is a founding teacher of Dance for PD®, an ongoing collaboration between the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Brooklyn Parkinson Group


Omar Carrum and Claudia Lavista (Delfos Danza) Project

Rehearsal Director: Angie Hauser

Thank you so much to everyone who auditioned. I appreciated your energy and focus throughout the audition.  It was a difficult decision, and I hope to see all of you in future auditions. - Angie

If you have been cast, please contact Angie right away to confirm your participation. Fall rehearsal dates will be set ASAP so that you can schedule your classes accordingly. 

Cast List
Brittany Claiborne
Joy Davis
Katy Esper
Niki Farahani
Miles Firkins 
Lauren Horn
Emily Lukasewski
Bronwen MacArthur
Ali Naranjo
Dahita Nereyeth
Ellen Oliver 
Sarazina Stein
Anna Wotring 

Important Dates
Cast members are required to be at all of the following rehearsals and performances:

  • Residency intensive with artists will happen during the timeframe of August 26-31 (dates/times TBD)
  • 2 (2-hour) rehearsals a week during the semester TBD
  • Omar Carrum residency September 27-28 (all day rehearsals)
  • Tech rehearsals and performances for Mount Holyoke College Fall Faculty Concert (November 8-15) and Smith College Fall Faculty Concert (November 15-23)

Dance Heginbotham Project

Rehearsal Director: Paul Dennis

If you have been cast, please contact Paul right away to confirm your participation.

Cast List
Tomas Aponte
Melissa Byrd
Natalia Carignano
Kayla Collette
Michelle Cueroni
Rebecca Finell
Leeza Meteleva
Emily Relyea-Spivack
Krista Scire
Amanda Somma
Sabina Smith-Moreland
Sharon Thomas

Important Dates
Cast members are required to be at all rehearsals and performances:

  • Residency intensive with artist will happen during the last week of August 2014 (exact dates/times TBD)
  • 2 rehearsals a week during the semester (TBD)
  • Possible intensive rehearsals on two additional weekends in the fall (TBD)
  • University Dancers Concert performances (December 5-6, 2014) + tech rehearsals
  • University Dancers Tour, likely January 15-17, 2015

[Andrea Miller Master Class Poster]

stitch // unraveling

in the marrow

Audition: Delfos Danza and Dance Higenbotham

[FCDD Faculty Concert poster larger]

FCDD Faculty Dance Concert
March 6-8, 8PM, Kirby Theater
Tickets are free.  Reservations recommended.   413.538.2848

Featuring Work by

Andrea Miller art director of Gallim Dance
Amherst professor Wendy Woodson
Hampshire College Alumnus Christopher Rasheem-McMillan
Mount Holyoke faculty Jim and Terese Coleman
Smith College faculty Marilyn and Sekou Sylla
UMass's Tom Vacanti
and guest jazz dance artist Erica Wilson-Perkins

The Five College Dance Department, in collaboration with the Amherst College Theater and Dance Department, presents an evening of original works by faculty members and guest artists representing all five campuses. The concert features excerpts from Wonderland by award-winning NYC choreographer Andrea Miller, artistic director of Gallim Dance. This dance investigates pack mentality as an inherent, potentially dangerous, element of human instinct; although it is a natural and ongoing phenomenon in the animal kingdom, among humans it can indicate a vicious, desensitized brutality and disregard for humanity – a concept that is at the core of Wonderland. Amherst College professor Wendy Woodson will present a new duet, Companion Piece, with dance artists Paul Matteson and Jennifer Nugent that explores an ever-shifting relationship, in and out of alignment. Hampshire College alumnus and current Five College Fellow Christopher Rasheem-McMillan will premiere, Scarcely Present, a group work that moves from moments of athleticism to introspection, investigating intimacy, visibility, and presence. Mount Holyoke College faculty members Terese Freedman and Jim Coleman have restaged their large group work Falling. Set to five songs by Roy Orbison, with disco ball and follow spot, this work pokes nostalgic, charged fun at the passions and foibles of youthful desire. Smith College’s offering will be Marilyn and Sekou Sylla’s festive extravaganza Carnivale. This original piece showcases carnival dance movements from Africa, the Caribbean, and Brazil. Live music and singing is an integral part of the work. UMass assistant professor Tom Vacanti combines contemporary dance with Italian Opera, Vaudeville, and "the fickle heart" in a new, fast-paced duet. UMass jazz dance guest artist Erica Wilson-Perkins will present her recent, large ensemble work, The Elders, featuring an original music mix of Swayzak, Valentino and Tectonic Plates.

Brazilian dance artist Dr. Amélia Conrado in residence March 3-13

The following events are free and open to the Five College Community:

Monday, March 3, 4pm: Opening Lecture at the WEB DuBois Library, Room 2601, UMass. Reception to follow at 6pm. Co-sponsored by the UMass Center for Latin American, Carribbean, and Latino Studies and the Five College Luso-Brazilan Working Group.

Tuesday, March 4, 10-11:30am: Master Class in Orixa Techniques, Studio Theatre, Mount Holyoke College
Taking place in Paul Matteson's Int/Adv Modern class. There is plenty of space for other dancers to join.

Tuesday, March 4, 2-3:30pm: Master Class in Dances of Bahia, Studio Theatre, Mount Holyoke College
Taking place in Marilyn Sylla's West African class. There is only space for 3 additional dancers. Please email Joanna Walker if you would like to reserve a spot.

Tuesday, March 4, 4:30-5:45pm: Master Class in Dances of Bahia, Totman 13, UMass
Taking place in Marilyn Sylla's West African class. There is only space for 3 additional dancers. Please email Joanna Walker if you would like to reserve a spot.

Wednesday, March 5, 12:15-1:15pm: Global Salon: The Afro-Brazilian Body in Dance and Performance: A Conversation with Amélia Conrado, Lewis Global Studies Center, Wright Hall, Smith College

Tuesday, March 11, 3-5pm: Dance Master Class, Berenson III, Smith College
Taking place in Daphne Lowell's Dance and Culture class. There is plenty of space for other dancers to join.

Wednesday, March 12, 4-5:30pm: Capoeira Master Class, Studio 1, Amherst College
Taking place in Paul Matteson's Modern 3 (Partner Dancing) class. There is only space for 5 additional dancers. Please email Joanna Walker if you would like to reserve a spot.

Dr. Amélia Conrado, master capoeirista, dancer and choreographer, currently works as Professor of Dance and Education at the Federal University of Bahia in Brazil. She has a Master’s Degree in Choreography from the Federal University of Bahia, and a PhD in Education with a special focus on the anthropology of African dance, popular Brazilian dances, and Capoeira Angola. She completed a post-doc in Paris at Paris VIII, where she presented and published about Dance and Education: Aesthetic Differences in the Political Body in Brazil and France. Conrado has also been teaching workshops for Americans in Bahia through the Viver Brasil summer tour group for over eight years. She was among the first choreographers for the famous dance troupe, Balé Folklórico da Bahia, and her choreography introduced much-neglected indigenous dance steps and traditions onto Bahia’s national stage. Presently, Conrado and Amherst College Associate Professor of Spanish Lucia Suarez are co-editing an anthology, Dance, Race, Nation in/from Bahia. The book gathers top dance scholars and activists from Canada, the United States, and Brazil, who have worked extensively in Bahia over the last two decades, to examine the particular ways in which Afro-Bahian dance has responded to socio-political notions of race, nation, and community, resisting stereotypes and re-defining African and Brazilian traditions. They will be featuring research from this project in the opening lecture at UMass.


ACDFA New England Conference 2014

Over the snowy weekend of February 13-16, many FCDD faculty members, staff and students made the trek to Boston University to participate in the American College Dance Festival Association (ACDFA)'s New England Conference. There, they experienced an exciting celebration of dance in higher education with a wide variety of master classes, scholarly research presentations, opportunities for student and faculty exchanges in and out of the studio, adjudication and informal concerts, feedback sessions and a Gala Concert.

The opportunity to receive feedback on choreography and performance is an integral part of every ACDFA conference. This year, the three dynamic and highly-respected adjudicators were Elizabeth Gillaspy, Doug Nielsen, and Helanius Wilkins. FCDD students were rewarded for their hard work and training with recognition of excellence. Remarkably, out of the dozens of dances presented (around seventy total), five of the eleven selected for this year’s Gala Concert were from FCDD campuses:

  • undigested logic choreographed by Ailey Picasso (HC'14), presented by Hampshire College
  • Of Course Off Course choreographed by Shaina Cantino (SC MFA '14), presented by Smith College
  • Duette choregraphed by Sarah Elaz (UM '14), presented by UMass 
  • How Did I Get Here? choreographed by Chris Aiken (SC faculty member), presented by Smith College
  • Before/After choreographed by Jennifer Hart, presented by UMass

As is the custom, three of the Gala Concert pieces were chosen to go to the National ACDFA Festival, and this year two of the three were FCDD pieces! Both How Did I Get Here? and Before/After will be presented at the prestigious Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. in June. Congratulations to Smith College faculty choreographer Chris Aiken, and to the wonderful cast of five college dancers in Before/After. Congratulations also to Ailey Picasso, whose solo was chosen as an alternate for the Kennedy Center performance.

In addition, FCDD faculty, staff, and graduate students represented the department well by leading a number of classes over the course of the weekend:

  • Tom Vacanti (UMass faculty member) taught Ballet
  • Billbob Brown (UMass faculty member) taught Jazz
  • Paul Dennis (UMass faculty member) taught Limon Technique
  • Chris Aiken and Angie Hauser (SC faculty members) taught Improvisational Partnering
  • Sara Coffin (SC MFA '14) taught Somatic-Based Contemporary
  • Shaina Cantino (SC MFA '14) taught Spontaneous Composition
  • Joy Davis (SC MFA '15) taught Counter Techinque
  • Allison Smartt (HC '11 and HC/MHC staff member) taught Sound for Performance
Congratulations to all FCDD performers, choreographers, and teachers for such a strong showing!

[How Did I Get Here?]


[Ailey Picasso]


Gallim's WONDERLAND to be featured in FCDD Faculty Concert

A cast of advanced dancers from all five college campuses will perform WONDERLAND (excerpts), by award-winning NYC choreographer Andrea Miller, founder and artistic director of Gallim Dance, in the FCDD Faculty Concert, March 6-8 in Amherst College’s Kirby Theater.

“WONDERLAND investigates pack mentality as an inherent and potentially dangerous element of human instinct. The work was initially inspired by Chinese-born artist Cai Guo-Qiang’s installation HEAD ON, which depicts 99 wolves charging into a glass wall. Four archetypal characters evolve in a universe influenced by the imagery of the American atomic age. Behind the smiles of an Esther Williams dream world, WONDERLAND reveals psychological and physical episodes of a herd acting as a unit through the uncoordinated behavior of self-serving individuals. Although pack mentality is a natural and ongoing strategy in the animal kingdom, among humans it can indicate a vicious, desensitized brutality and disregard for humanity – a concept that is at the core of WONDERLAND.” (from the Gallim Dance website)

Gallim Dance company member Caroline Fermin was in residency for a week in January and is returning in February to finish staging the piece. FCDD Chair Jim Coleman is rehearsal director.

[Gallim Dance performing WONDERLAND]

Winter Dance Publicity Photo

This semester, Jodi Falk, Lecturer in Dance Education and Community Outreach, taught two classes, one at UMass and one at Hampshire College.

The Hampshire class, Community Crossovers: Dance in the Community, highlighted the way dance can bridge various communities and become a tool for empowerment and!  We created workshops for different communities and venues and then went out and made dance happen. We worked with seniors at The Arbors in Amherst and with First Generation in Springfield. First Generation is a youth group whose members identify with "firsts" - first to become an American in their family; first to finish school; first in many different respects. We also finished a four-week residency at the RFK Children's Corps, a treatment center for young women who are first-time offenders. We learned that movement is a powerful tool to create connection, and we hosted a final event on December 9 where our communities got a chance to come to the Hampshire campus, get a tour, do a workshop all together, see a short photo slideshow of the semester, and eat some food!

Click here to view the Hampshire College Community Crossovers: Dance in the Community photo slideshow.

The UMass class, Teach to Your Passion, focused on several ways to reach various communities through dance as a performance art. The class both observed and taught a class at the Amherst Regional High School and at Sci-Tech High School in Springfield. Most recently the class created a socially-conscious-based lecture-demonstration at Dean Technical High School in Holyoke, a school at risk, the principal of which asked UMass to help with their bullying problem. The UMass class partnered with a local Holyoke dance studio, some of whose students attend Dean, and made a step piece about coming together from different backgrounds, respecting each other, and unity through dance. Then, the group created an interactive discussion with Dean students about respect, results, and risks of various kinds of behavior. UMass students told some of their personal stories. Positive feedback was one result of this exploration. Future sustainable solutions are being discussed and Jodi is connecting Dean to various local agencies, like Peace Jam, that work in long-term, locally focused ways with youth around the country. The class also created "buddy projects," in which students were coached and assisted in meeting their dance goals by UMass Dance Ed students!  Final projects included creating and auditioning for a dream job, some of which seem perfectly attainable. We all look forward to seeing these dreams come to fruition!

As far as Dance Education at the Five Colleges goes, we are off to a good start. Look for more collaborations and connections with our local Pioneer Valley Community.  We are never an island, and connecting to our neighbors through dance is a way to share our skills, while learning some enduring lessons in life along the way!

Join Jodi's next class, The Power of Dance: Education and Beyond, at Mount Holyoke College this spring on Mondays and Wednesdays from 11:30am-1:30pm where we will connect to communities, learn how to bring dance into an integrated curriculum, learn from guest teachers, and further our knowledge and toolkit to promote dance as one of the most powerful learning tools there is! 

UMass dancers awarded first Virginia J. Wagner Scholarships

The Five College Dance Department applauds UMass dance majors Niki Farahani ('15) and Michelle Cueroni ('16), the first two recipients of the Virginia J. Wagner Scholarship. This scholarship is made possible through an endowment administered by the UMass Foundation to support deserving and needy FCDD students. The FCDD faculty considered recommendations for deserving students from all five campuses, and will continue to do so in future years. Congratulations to Niki and Michelle on this well-deserved honor!

[Niki Farahani]

Michelle Cueroni