Five College Consortium

Five College Dance Department

Professor Constance Valis Hill Honors the History of Tap Dance in the Library of Congress

[Constance photo]

Five College Professor of Dance Constance Valis Hill has created “Tap Dance in America: A Twentieth-Century Chronology of Tap Performance on Stage, Film, and Media,” a 3,000 performance record database with 180 biographies of twentieth-century tap dancers for the Library of Congress.

Also see "Tap Dance in America: A Short History" and "The Missing Scholarship of American Tap Dance" by Constance Valis Hill, which highlight the significance of tap history and artists.

Charnice Charmant (SC '16) awarded 2015-16 Wagner Scholarship

[Charnice Charmant]

The FCDD is happy to announce the winner of the 2015-16 Virginia J. Wagner Scholarship: Charnice Charmant (SC ‘16). This is an endowed award started by Virginia J. Wagner, an alumna from the University of Massachusetts. The scholarship is need-based and is awarded by recommendation of the faculty to students who have made substantial and valuable contributions to the Five College Dance Department.

Charnice is a consistently excellent student and member of the dance community at Smith College. She is a charismatic and skilled performer and is an active participant in the creative process. Charnice is an artist who, on the one hand, contributes richly to the development of the choreography through a process of critical engagement with the choreographer and fellow dancers, and, on the other hand, delivers physically captivating performances with high standards of technique, expressivity and musicality.

Charnice has been clear and positive in helping the Smith Department of Dance to grow by urging them to include more opportunities to study dance and dance theory from minority cultures. She is forthright in presenting the need to re-consider the role of race in dance and how this history is reflected in the cannon of choreographers that are studied within the Department while also being a healing influence as we work to come to terms with the on-going and often violent race issues in America. Charnice is a networker and community-builder in dance, at Smith College, and in the Five College Dance Department. Her social and intellectual interests stretch beyond the walls of any one group, and she brings them together to generate bigger coalitions and solutions.

We congratulate Charnice on this well-deserved award!

New FCDD Production Team

After seeing the incomparable production team of Jean Baxter and Gwen Niven off to retirement and grad school respectively, the FCDD is excited to welcome our brand new production team: Matthew Adelson and Olana Z. Flynn. Matt and Olana can be found in the FCDD Production Office on the 2nd floor of the Green St. Annex at Smith College. Please greet them warmly and make them feel at home!

Matthew AdelsonMatthew Adelson is the Production Manager for the Five College Dance Department, and has worked in Lighting Design and Production Management since 1996. From 2000 to 2005, he was the Production Coordinator for Dance Department at NYU/Tisch School of the Arts, and from 2005 to 2015 was the Lighting Designer for the Dance Department at Williams College. Additionally, from 2005 to 2014, he was the Director of Production at the Mahaiwe Performing Art Center, in Great Barrington. Matthew is also the Production Manager for the annual Yidstock festival at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst. His design credits includes work throughout the Berkshires, across the country, London and New York. Matthew holds a BA from SUNY-Albany and an MFA from the Yale School of Drama. He is also a member of the United Scenic Artists, IATSE Local 829.

Olana FlynnOlana Z. Flynn, Production Assistant for the Five College Dance Department, received a BA in Performance and Choreography from Hampshire College. Before joining the FCDD she worked as the Administrative Assistant at Pioneer Valley Ballet. In 2013, she co-founded and directed Workbench, a monthly choreography showcase, for which she received a Northampton Arts Council grant. She was an adjunct dance faculty member at Springfield College during the 2014-2015 year. Her choreography has been performed in New York, Providence, Boston, and Brattleboro. Olana continues to teach and perform locally and show her choreography regionally. Currently, she is working alongside other FCDD alums in Loculus, a performance collective of which she is a founding member.

Sherrerd Award for Outstanding Teaching

[Rodger Blum]

Dance Professor and Department Chair Roger Blum received the prestigious Sherrerd Award for Outstanding Teaching at Smith College 2014. Each year, Smith students, faculty and alumnae submit nominations for the Sherrerd teaching prize, which recognizes the distinguished teaching records and demonstrated enthusiasm and excellence of Smith faculty members. It has become a symbol of the value, commitment and dedication Smith places on pedagogy.

Lifetime Achievement Award from NDEO

[Peggy Schwartz headshot]

  Peggy Schwartz, Professor and Director Emerita of the University Dance Program, "in  recognition of Outstanding Leadership, Advocacy, and Achievement in Dance and Dance  Education" was awarded the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award 2013 from the National  Dance Education Organization.

Grant from National Endowment for the Humanities

[Lester Tomé photo]

In 2014-2015, Lester Tomé, Assistant Professor of Dance at Smith College received a $50,400 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support work on his new book on the history and globalization of post-revolution Cuban ballet. He spent the year conducting research as a resident scholar at Harvard's David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies.

Choreography Fellowship from MCC


Paul Matteson, Assistant Professor of Dance at Amherst and Mount Holyoke Colleges, received a $10,000 Choreography Fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council in 2014.

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 during Fall 2014. 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

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

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. June 2014 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 2014. 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.