They Came to Dance

Montclair State students perform at Regional American College Dance Festival gala

Photo: Robert Cooper

Montclair State University dance students, Julie Cullen and Tracy Dunbar, in “Oh My Love” by Earl Mosley, a work chosen to be performed at the National American College Dance Festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, in June 2014.

The annual Northeast Regional American College Dance Festival was held from March 12 through 16 at The College at Brockport in Brockport, N.Y. and 19 Montclair State University student dancers attended along with Theatre and Dance professor and Director of Dance Lorraine Katterhenry.

“We presented two works for adjudication by a panel of dance professionals,” Katterhenry says. The adjudicators evaluated 50 works of choreography in three days. Both of Montclair State’s entries were selected for inclusion in the festival’s closing Gala performance. “We were the only school to have both entries selected,” she adds.

One of the selected works, Save Me, was choreographed and performed by dance major Mark Willis, who received his BFA in January. The other work, Oh My Love, which was choreographed by dance faculty member Earl Mosley, was further selected to be one of three works that will represent the Northeast Region at the National American College Dance Festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC from June 5 to 7, 2014.

“The theme for my piece is the struggle of a troubled man’s soul seeking relief,” says Willis. “My inspiration came from hearing stories of school shootings and people who have committed suicide. This is a pretty heavy subject, so I was a little apprehensive about doing something like this.”

Willis, however, felt strongly about the topic. “I have a personal connection with the Sandy Hook shootings, as I have a friend whose mother died in that shooting,” he explains. Set to the song “Hand Covers Bruise” by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross from the soundtrack to The Social Network, the dance is about what the shooter might be thinking and feeling in the moments before he decides to take another’s life – and his own.

Oh My Love, a work for eight dancers, is set to a suite of torch songs by Cyndi Lauper. “Earl Mosley is a fantastic choreographer,” says Katterhenry. “His movement invention, use of syncopation and wonderful use of space make his works satisfying for both the dancers and the audience. His work, which often deals with human relationships, is warm and soulful.”

Katterhenry is looking forward to the National Festival in June. “We have been selected to perform nine times out of the last 12 National Festivals. It is a tremendous honor to be representing our region at the Kennedy Center in June.”