Dance Company Will Celebrate 35 Years with Performance on March 26-27
Celebrating 35 Years of Dance
Members of the Moravian College Dance Company—present and past—will spin, leap, and glide across the stage of Foy Concert Hall March 26 and 27 for their annual spring performance, which this year celebrates 35 years of dance at the College. The retrospective event, under the artistic direction of Mary Anne Gillen Hoffman, will include works choreographed and performed by students, alumni, faculty members, and local guest artists from the Lehigh Valley School of the Performing Arts, Ballet Guild of the Lehigh Valley, and the Coral Nolan Academy of Dance.
The Moravian student troupe will perform modern, jazz, and ballet pieces, including "Swing, Swing, Swing," a new piece choreographed by Hoffman to honor company founder Dawn Ketterman Benner. A group of Dance Company alumni will return to perform "Mein Herr," originally created for the 2005 dance concert, choreographed by Kathryn Washer '05. Former artistic director Pattie Bostick-Winn will join the celebration with "Sing, Sing, Sing!" which she choreographed. And "The Company Jumps," "Campus Commute," and "Never Run with Scissors" will feature the choreography of
assistant artistic director Jennifer Gite Weaver
Ketterman Benner, now dance company advistor (as well as Moravian College associate director of athletics and head women's tennis coach), began the company in 1975 as a club. "Our first public spring performance was performed in Johnston Hall with no lighting, very simple costumes, and one-page mimeographed program," she recalled. "The big piece that year was 'Rhapsody in Blue.'"
A founding member of the Lehigh Valley Dance Consortium with professional connections in the area and in New York, Ketterman Benner helped the club grow in membership and support. "We became the Moravian College Dancers, and then the Moravian College Dance Company," she explained. In 2000, after 25 years as the full-time director of the company, Ketterman Benner took on a more behind-the-scenes role as a very active advisor.
"The artistic directors that have followed me have had extensive training," she said. "Mary Anne has taken the dancers to a new level." Hoffman, who is a former faculty member of the Ballet Guild of the Lehigh Valley, has studied at the Boston Conservatory and danced with professional companies in New York and Pennsylvania.
Moravian dancers say membership lasts a lifetime. "Collaborating with these incredible young women to create art forms a unique bond that lasts forever," said Ketterman Benner. "I'm so glad to have had that. Working with my dancers has been very healing for me … I'm blessed to have had this opportunity."
As advisor, she assists Hoffman in the weeks leading up to major performances, manages company finances, and oversees the Dawn Ketterman Benner Dance Fund, which provides master classes and field trips. For the 2010 anniversary celebration, she also choreographed the liturgical dance "Twelve Gates to the City," in honor of the Moravian Liturgical Dancers, a 1960s student ensemble. "I want to make sure that the Moravian College Dance Company stays alive. I hope it remains an integral part of Moravian College life after I'm gone. ... People sometimes ask why I've stayed at Moravian all these years. I've stayed here for the students—I hope I've had some impact on their lives."