After participating in the recent 2011 Mid-Atlantic American College Dance Festival (ACDF) Conference at Elon University, N.C., 25 dance majors at Montclair State University returned home with more than just tired feet and sore muscles. Out of a field of about 50 dances, both pieces presented by the Montclair State contingent were given the prized recognition of being selected to be among 10 dances to be presented on the final evening of the festival as part of the Gala Performance on March 26.
“We presented [guest artist] Earl Mosley's Running Spirits and Overtime by student choreographers Julian Morales and Melissa Fuentes. We were delighted that both of our pieces were chosen for this prestigious performance,” said Prof. Lorraine Katterhenry, deputy chair of the Department of the Theatre and Dance.
But, it’s not the first time Montclair State has garnered this honor. Since Montclair State began participating in the ACDF back in 1987, Katterhenry said its students have been tapped to present at least one piece of choreography at the Gala Concert a total of eight times in the last 11 years, and both pieces a total of seven times since 1987. [No more than two pieces from any institution may be adjudicated in a conference year.]
Katterhenry credited the University’s rigorous program with preparing dancers to excel in the field.
“We select interesting and cutting-edge [guest] choreographers to set repertory on our students but, then, we work to bring the work to a high level of artistry after the guest artist leaves. We also work to mentor our student choreographers to help them create works that inspire and engage their audience,” she explained.
“Having been selected to perform the duet, Overtime, I choreographed alongside my dance partner, Julian Morales [a junior], was a very rewarding experience,” said Fuentes, a senior. “After hundreds of hours of rehearsal in the Montclair State University dance studios late at night and all of the frustration and sweat, it was all worth it just to hear [ACDF judges] David Parker, Claire Porter, and Gabri Christa say, ‘Yeah, that was funny. You guys are great performers.’ "
"Being able to attend, perform and represent Montclair State University's Dance and Theatre Department at the ACDF was one of the highlights of my college career,” said senior Melissa Sande. “The recognition of our performance by such influential people in the dance community among so many other strong dance departments in the region makes me proud to be a Red Hawk."
The conference took place from March 23-26 with a total of 22 schools participating. The other participating schools were County College of Morris; Eastern Carolina University; Elon University; Goucher College; James Madison University; Mercyhurst College; Meredith College; North Carolina State University; Old Dominion University; Peace College; Piedmont Virginia Community College; Radford University; Rutgers University; Sweet Briar College; University of Maryland; University of North Carolina at Charlotte; University of North Carolina at Greensboro; University of Richmond; Virginia Commonwealth University; Wake Forest University; and West Virginia University.
Katterhenry said she was proud of her students for garnering such a well-deserved honor.
“The students performed brilliantly and had a wonderful time. We are all delirious with exhaustion and happiness,” said Katterhenry.
The students cannot rest on their laurels for long upon returning to campus, as they switch into high gear for Dance Works 2011. [Performances on campus will take place April 6-10.]