Five College Consortium

Five College Dance Department

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.