I asked Junior Dance major Hayley Martin why she choose Desales University in her college search process.
“First I chose DeSales because of its prime location in the Lehigh Valley. There are numerous opportunities to get involved in the arts and it is not too far from Philadelphia and New York City. DeSales also has a different masterclass every Friday with the entire dance major. No other school I looked into would bring in as many guest teachers as DeSales, and it helps to make connections with professionals within the dance community. The masterclass also brings a sense of community to the department because every dance major takes the class all together. The family atmosphere between everyone in the dance major was by far the most important reason I chose to come here. You meet everyone at that first masterclass and just seeing how uplifting everyone is here was such a positive experience for me. Here at DeSales everyone has the same goal and we push each other to these goals with such an encouraging community. Everyones creative ideas are welcomed and I don’t think I could have chosen a better school than DeSales.”
We hope you all were able to come out and see the Desales University Dance Ensemble this past weekend! We have another opportunity for you to see our wonderful dance majors performing at the end of our 2019 spring semester in our Informal Concert! We have an informal concert at the end of each semester that any student can propose a piece to be given the opportunity to choreograph. We love to give each and every one of our students the opportunity to express their creative ideas on the stage no matter what year they are! The Informal Concerts are all inclusive concerts representing any style of dance a student may wish to present. Keep checking in for the official date of the 2019 Spring Informal Concert!
Today is the start of tech week for our dance majors! Don’t forget to get your tickets for the Desales University Dance Ensemble this weekend March 15-17!! DUDE is a faculty and guest artist choreographed performance that showcases the many talents and abilities represented in our dance department here at Desales. Get your tickets soon before the performance sells out!!
I have asked senior Chiedu Mbonu, who will be graduating with a degree in dance this upcoming May, about his experiences here within the dance major and what he could tell to any prospective dance students.
“Coming here with little experience and little training was very intimidating coming into college dance. The professors here at Desales really made this transition easy for me and really encouraged me to do my best. There are a lot of performance opportunities within the department, and there are many ways to create your own opportunities here as well. You can create your own performances and events or even create short dance films in collaboration with our TV Film majors. The community here is very loving and supportive and the faculty truly only wants the best for you. I really feel like everyone here is a part of my family now.”
This upcoming weekend is our Desales University Dance Ensemble where we are showcasing the many talents within our dance department. From our dancers, dance faculty, and even instrumental accompanists, our dance department has been working hard for months and we cannot wait to share our hard work with everyone. This week leading up to the show will also be filled with a lot of rehearsals on our main stage so all of our performers will be in tip top shape for the first performance this upcoming Friday. Don’t forget to grab your tickets for one of our four shows this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, March 16, 17, and 18. You will not be disappointed seeing our dancers perform special guests’ choreography, historical reconstructions, and especially our very own dance department faculty’s original work. You can click the link below to order your tickets before time runs out, and we cannot wait to see you at the Desales University Dance Ensemble.
This Friday in our Brisson Dance Studio the cast, crew, and faculty of the DeSales Dance Department are all gathering to further prep the pieces for our upcoming show the DeSales University Dance Ensemble. We will be rehearsing each piece for the performance in a tentative order for the show, and will also be running the dances for the lighting designers so each piece can have a specific lighting scheme. We have been working and creating these pieces since the start of this spring semester, and with the show slowly approaching us we would like to give the dance department a chance to see these amazing works in the midst of the choreographic process before they hit the stage. Also this week, our dancers will be finishing up costume fittings so each dancer can have a custom costume assigned to them for every piece they are featured in.
Best of luck to all of our dancers who will be dancing in this weeks showing!
On Friday, October 28th, the DeSales University Dance Department and the Athletics Department came together for what will hopefully become an annual event. Taking place in Billera Hall, “Dancing with the Athletes” featured 11 dance majors paired with various athletic team members to showcase the results of multiple rehearsals for their peers’ amusement. In addition to being a fun and entertaining way to spend an evening, the performance served as a fundraiser for the victims of the floods that devastated Louisiana over the summer. With a suggested donation of 5 dollars, the large turnout and generosity of those in attendance provided a total of 515 dollars for relief services. Furthermore, the event served to foster relationships between two communities that almost never interact. Athletes came to dance studios they previously had not known existed, and dancers experienced a level of competition between the pairs they rarely encounter. Sophomore dance major Jackie Yerkes commented that she loved getting the chance to meet people she never would have otherwise, and that her partner’s lack of experience made him willing to try absolutely anything. Junior dance major Paige Matzerath remarked that she found it challenging to come up with choreography that would be both entertaining and accessible to her partner, but also that she too loved interacting with students outside of her sphere. On the other hand, athlete DJ Dalition really enjoyed seeing his improvement and growth, and he thanked his partner Gina Emering for being patient with him. Similarly, although she struggled with the late-night rehearsals typical to dance majors, Nicole Umbenhauer was delighted to learn actual ballet steps and terminology. As Yerkes put it, it was “overall…a great event for a great cause and many people enjoyed watching the performances!”
By Emmy Spaar
Roundtable Panel with Dance Department Alumni
On Friday, September 23rd, current DeSales dance majors had the opportunity to meet with the first graduating class of DeSales University dance majors over lunch. Of the five alumni from the class of 1986, several travelled across the country to share their life stories and discuss how their degrees affected their careers. In the spirit of Homecoming weekend, old friends reconnected and related to current students through their mutual experiences in the DeSales family.
After focusing on dance education in her undergrad, Suzanne Winoski pursued her teaching goals by joining the staff at her local studio and eventually transitioned into the roles of owner and director. Her numerous teaching certifications contributed to her current positions as a voice for dance and wellness in the public school system. Moreover, her path in the dance world has allowed her to balance her family life with her career. For all considering a future in teaching dance, Suzanne was definitely an excellent source of information.
Carol M. Heverly’s experience after graduation could not have been anticipated. After booking a dream job as a Sesame Place Theme Park performer, a torn ACL cut her performance career short. Despite many setbacks due to injury, Carol found fulfillment in using her experiences to assist others in coping with physical obstacles, working in movement classes with chair bound individuals as well as those with brain damage. Residing locally with her husband and children, Carol offered the great advice that you don’t necessarily need to relocate to utilize your degree; also, the course of your life is entirely unpredictable, but it’s still worthwhile despite the trials you’ll face.
An incredibly passionate and vocal individual, Lindsey Hanahan enjoyed success as a musical theater performer around the world before discovering her passion for Laban movement studies. She currently works as a movement therapist in Denver, Colorado where she owns MOVE studios. In addition to offering advice regarding auditioning and staying motivated after graduation, Lindsey encouraged the dance majors to seize every opportunity and explore all aspects of dance as often opportunities and career options exist of which we aren’t even aware.
Next, Kara Callahan-Boyd described her endeavors as a cruise line performer for Royal Caribbean International. Beginning as a dancer, she now operates in the creative and production areas of Disney Cruise Line. As a Talent Casting and Operations Manager, Kara gave insight regarding audition tips, financial situations, and balancing her job with her family. As several dance majors are interested in someday working for Disney, Kara was an incredible contact to have on campus.
Finally, Danny Cunningham illustrated his career as a Modern dance performer, an actor with the European tour of West Side Story, an esteemed competition adjudicator, and more. His experiences as a dancer during the AIDS epidemic shed light on some of the harsh realities in the arts community while reminding all present to appreciate every opportunity they face and take nothing for granted. Additionally, he shared his incredibly generous plans to found a new scholarship for incoming dance majors at DeSales.
Overall, the discussion with Dance department alumni was interesting and informative. The variety of routes pursued with the same degree was eye-opening for the young artists deciding which direction to turn upon graduation. Meeting graduates from the class of 1986 was a great reminder of how rare the familial community found at DeSales is, and how responsible we are for cultivating and preserving it.
Alumni with DSU dance faculty
On Wednesday, April 20th, many DeSales University dance majors road-tripped to Philadelphia. Departing from the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts, a bus took them to the Wilma Theater where they enjoyed exclusive access to a closed rehearsal for Philadelphia’s premiere contemporary ballet company, BalletX. There they were welcomed by the company’s founder and artistic and executive director Christine Cox and associate artistic director Tara Keating. After offering an overview of the program, Keating introduced one of the choreographers, Kevin O’Day. Opening that night, the Spring Series performance celebrated the prolific company’s tenth anniversary with excerpts from some of their most memorable pieces of the decade, as well as a new work by O’Day. Featuring one piece from each year since 2005, the program culminated in the world premiere of O’Day’s Time Curves. Each piece highlighted the versatility of the company members, varying immensely in moods, music, and approaches to the classical movement vocabulary of ballet. In the opening piece Frequencies (2005), a trio of two women and one man entered the space unexpectedly wearing sets of angel wings and executing sharp and precise movement with an underlying sense of struggle and desperation. Later on, The Last Glass (2010) involved all of the company’s ten dancers in whimsical costumes flying through the space in unrestrained revelry. The world premiere contrasted immensely with its mysterious, intense tone. The full company took the stage accompanied by a cellist and a massive hanging installation in what appeared to be an “X.” Implementing a strong use of breath, multiple costume changes, and risky, breathtaking choreography, this piece was a strong closer to the program and left little to be desired. At the conclusion of the performance, dance majors remarked at the inspirational effect of the artists’ insane physicality and technical prowess. Their fearless approach to partner work and the sheer strength with which they handled the difficult choreography brought everyone to a resolution to work harder in classes and tap into new creativity in their own works. Overall, the BalletX trip was an extremely worthwhile experience and just one of the many amazing opportunities enjoyed by dance majors at DeSales.
By Emmy Spaar (Sophomore Dance and English major)