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Feb. 21, 2013
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine

Dance majors enter spotlight

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. -Slippery Rock University dance majors are hitting the road to participate in two dance festivals.

Sixteen students left Slippery Rock Wednesday to make the 289-mile trip to Rochester, Mich., to participate in The American College Dance Festival Association where they were scheduled to dance Thursday. Six students will leave next week to travel 370 miles to Brooklyn, N.Y. to participate in the Kids Café Festival Goes to College competition. Ursula Payne, SRU professor of dance and department chair, chose the participants and is travelling with them.

At the ACDFA, SRU students performed "Breaking Ground," by Tara Madsen, a 2004 dance graduate, who performs with the Tania Isaac Dance Co. in Philadelphia. Mary Regney, an SRU dance major from Beaver, presented a solo choreography called "As My Bones Break."

Both events were adjudicated concerts, which means judges provided feedback on choreography, technique and artistry.

"This is my first time attending ACDFA, so I am nervous for my choreography to be critiqued in front of everyone at the festival, but I am also excited to apply the feedback they give me to anything else I choreograph in the future," Regney said. "As dance students, we are so lucky Slippery Rock University is allowing us to have this amazing experience."

The festival, which continues until Saturday, will include more than 450 dancers from 28 university dance programs, plus 60 faculty members. The festival includes workshops, master classes, adjudicated concerts and a closing gala.

"Along with being a performer, all of the SRU dancers and myself will be taking a variety of technique dance classes," Regney said. "It is going to be an extremely busy and exciting week. It is such an honor to be attending such a great festival.

"We will be learning new techniques, meeting new friends and experiencing amazing dance pieces from different dance programs."

Payne said the festival would provide especially important connections for dance majors aspiring to become professional dancers.

"The festival is important in terms of exposure and networking," she said. "As students are taking master classes, they are meeting students from the regions who are pursuing dance as a career option. Students are able to meet one another and network, which is especially important as they graduate and move on to the next phase of their careers."

The American College Dance Festival Association's primary focus is to support and promote dance departments. Conferences provide the opportunity for students and faculty to have their dance works adjudicated by a panel of nationally recognized dance professionals.

Six students will travel with Payne to New York to perform and participate in the March 1-3 Kids Café Festival Goes to College, at Long Island University's Kumble Theater. The festival showcases student choreography from top university dance departments. Participating universities include The Ohio State University, University of Michigan, Marymount Manhattan College and Indiana University.

Up to 250 high school students from the New York City region and 600 dance fans are expected to attend the festival to learn more about university dance programs.

Payne said SRU's participation provides exposure for the SRU dance program and gives students the chance to see what is happening at these colleges and universities. "It really dawns on our students how much they have here at Slippery Rock University, how much they're learning and being exposed to," Payne said.

Students participating in the American College Dance Festival include dance majors Emily Kennard, Shelley Collock, Ryan McMullen, Larissa Spak, Rachel Wesling, Nichole Young, Regney, Sonja Gable, Nicole Monville, Natalie Osborne, Nicole Altiere, Melanie Calhoun, Rebecca Burcher, Alyssa McIntrye, Heather Cumer and Chalice Streitman. Burcher, Collock, McMullen, Spak, Wesling and Young are going to New York City.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.