Five College Consortium

Five College Dance Department

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.


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]

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

Announcing the 2013 Perry-Mansfield Scholarship Awardees

This year’s scholarship recipients for the Perry-Mansfield Pre-Professional Intensive Summer Program are Tommy Seibold (UM, '14) and Ellen Oliver (HC, '16). Tommy and Ellen will receive full scholarships to the prestigious 6-week workshop, directed by Linda Kent, former Principal Dancer with both the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and the Paul Taylor Dance Company.

Five College Dance Department & UMass Hosts ACDFA Conference 2013

UMass Amherst/Five College Dance Department successfully hosted the American College Dance Festival Association Conference 2013. A centerpiece of the conference was a performance by the Joffrey Ballet of Nijinsky's masterpiece, Rite of Spring, along with other master classes by the Joffrey Ballet.  The FCDD planned 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 video showings.

On Thursday night of the conference, the Joffrey Ballet performed Nijinsky's classic 1912 dance The Rite of Spring at the UMass Fine Arts Center. Set to Igor Stravinsky's riveting score, this dance created a riot in the audience when it was first performed 101 years ago. 

Amherst College & Mount Holyoke College Welcomes Paul Matteson

[Matteson photo]

In 2012, The Amherst College Department of Theater and Dance and the Mount Holyoke College Department of Dance welcomed PAUL MATTESON to their new, tenure-track, shared position in Contemporary Dance and Performance. Paul received his B.A. in Religious Studies and Dance from Middlebury College, and his M.F.A. in choreography from Bennington College. He is a Bessie Award–winning performer and choreographer who has been performing with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company since 2008. He has also performed with Kota Yamazaki, David Dorfman Dance, and Creach/Company, among others, at such venues as the Dance Theater Workshop, Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Kitchen, Joyce Theater, and Symphony Space, all in New York. He performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., when Bill T. Jones was honored in 2010, and at the Metropolitan Opera in Doug Varone’s Rite of Spring. His recent choreography includes Edgewater, performed at New York City’s Judson Church and as part of the Family Matters series at Dance Theater Workshop; Step Touch, a duet with Jennifer Nugent; and Pieced Apart, also performed with Nugent. He has previously taught at Colby College, Juilliard School, Queens College, Bennington College, and been on the faculty at Bard College since 2011. He has taught at numerous festivals from Miami to Moscow, and will be teaching at the Bates Dance Festival this summer.