In June, six students from Montclair State’s BFA in Dance program performed the modern dance masterwork, To Have and To Hold, on the stage of the Kennedy Center at the American College Dance Association (ACDA) National College Dance Festival. Their bravura performance was recognized with the ACDA/Dance Magazine Outstanding Performance Award.
Dancers Divine Garland, Emily Ingersoll, Marsha Pierre, Josue Prim, Kristian Real and Tayler Riveron turned in a fine-tuned performance of choreographer Joanie Smith and Danial Shapiro’s iconic work that is about love and loss in its many forms – from the fun and flirtation of young love to the poignancy of love lost through death. Benches are used to represent physical settings such as church pews, a bed, and finally the grave.
“Great ensemble work,” noted National College Dance Festival adjudicating panelists Danai Tai Soon Burgess, Douglas Sonntag and Lauren Wingenroth “Each performer had beautiful technique. Each dancer had soloist qualities but could move comfortably as a generous ensemble member as well.”
To Have and To Hold was selected by the 2018 ACDA Northeast Regional Conference in March as one of three dances representing the region that were performed at the June festival in Washington, D.C.
While Montclair State dancers have been selected over the years to perform 10 times at the biennial National ACDA festival, this is the first time one of its performances has been honored with Dance Magazine’s prestigious Outstanding Performance Award.
“To Have and To Hold required not only an ability to perform with technical virtuosity and a highly developed musical sensitivity, but it also demanded a mature sense of ensemble and community,” explains Montclair State Dance Program Director Lorraine Katterhenry. “That awareness of and concern for others was perhaps the most important part of their performance and – most likely – the quality which singled them out as deserving of the award.”
Panel judges viewed 30 works during three gala performances at the Kennedy Center in June to determine recipients of choreography and performance awards. All student performers were eligible for the Outstanding Performance Award, which was split this year between the University’s ensemble performance and a University of California, Irvine solo effort.
“Our program in Dance has emerged as one of the best in the nation,” says College of the Arts Dean Daniel Gurskis. “Our graduates are on their way to success at dance companies around the country – and around the world.”