Conference A Huge ‘Grand Jeté’ Forward For Student Dancers

By Quinlan Mitchell ’14

From March 12 to 16, students from the University of Rochester Program of Dance and Movement really got things moving. Along with program director Missy Pfohl-Smith and four faculty members, 14 UR undergrads participated in the Northeast regional conference of the American College Dance Festival Association (ACDFA) held this year at The College at Brockport.

The UR dance program has taken students to the conference three years in a row, largely due to the continued support of the Office of the Dean of the College, Dean Richard Feldman. Through generous sponsorship, Dean Feldman has allowed students of dance to take a huge ‘grand jeté’ forward as dancers and as people.

“Attending ACDFA was a pivotal experience in my college career, I’m so grateful to have connected with dancers whom I could have only met through ACDFA,” saysDan Hoffman ’15.

In return for the opportunity to pursue their art, dance students are showing their appreciation in a report to be presented to Dean Feldman, commenting on their experiences at ACDFA. Lauren Laibach, a senior at the U of R, has attended three ACDFA conferences.  Laibach says, “It’s so important for students from the UR program of Dance and Movement to broaden their horizons in terms of different approaches to dance and performance, and that’s exactly what ACDFA offers us.” Laibach also likes that ACDFA allows to her to watch a number of unique dance performances, something she loves to do.

Taking place on an annual basis, ACDFA regional conferences are part of a national initiative to promote dance as a performing art and nurture choreographic expression in college students. Dancers from all over attend conferences to engage in “three days of performances, workshops, panels, and master classes taught by instructors from around the region and country,” according to the ACDFA website.

Falling this year on spring break, the conference was not a chance for students to kick back and relax. Each day they participated in four master classes, running all day from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with a lunch break in the middle. After classes students also had the option of attending the formal, adjudicated concert for undergraduate pieces, often calling it a night around 10 pm.

This year the Program of Dance and Movement presented three student pieces at the conference, two for adjudication and one at the informal student performance. Dan Hoffman ’15 choreographed, “Meetings Along the Edge,” Jessie Hogestyn ’14 choreographed “Sounds of Silence,” and students enrolled in Dance Ensemble presented their piece, “Quantum Truths.”  Hogestyn’s piece also was featured on campus, at the Louvre Performance Ensemble’s “Bravado,” on April 5.

On campus, more student works from the Program of Dance and Movement also were featured at the student choreography concert, “Architectures,” as well as the outdoor concert “National Water Dances,” both held on April 12.