Dance Company and Alumni at Ailey School of Dance
Above, from left to right
Top Row: Caelyn LaChance, Mary Anne Hoffman (dance company advisor), Astrid Buquen, Kasey Draude, Karen Riehl (dance company assistant director), Sami Hipper, Rachel Morrison (dance alumni), Lauren Mulvaney (dance alum)
Middle Row: Rebecca Toyberg, Emily Hendershot, Brianna Durics, Major Nesby (master class instructor), Natalie Vasquez, Nicole Zangara, Angelica Merone, Melissa Rowbottom (dance company artistic director)
Bottom Row: Victor (master class accompanist), Emily Bolger, Samantha Anderson (dance alumni), Kelly O'Hanlon, Kaitlyn Fritz, Jillian McLuhan, Brooke Thomas, Nicole Linnartz (dance alumni), Kayli Silimperi (dance lumni)
By Samantha Anderson
It was an excursion any dancer would love. On December 2, 2017, I traveled with the Moravian College Dance Company, a handful of other alumni dancers, and current and past company directors to New York City for a day of dance beginning with a class at the renowned Ailey School of Dance. Alvin Ailey, the school’s namesake, was a choreographer and activist credited with popularizing modern dance and revolutionizing African-American participation in professional dance. His dance style combines the visually pleasing lines and technical range of classical ballet with the expressiveness and movement of modern dance.
Our 90-minute master class focused on the Horton Technique, a style of dance that takes a whole body approach and emphasizes spatial awareness, coordination of flexibility, strength, and freedom of expression. Major Nesby, a dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, led the class of over 20 people, and Victor, a percussionist, accompanied us. Learning the Horton Technique was a different experience for many dancers—especially those accustomed to the rigid rules and structure of traditional ballet technique.
Having not taken a dance class in a few years, I was unsteady at first, but I quickly settled in as the warm-up progressed. It felt amazing to be dancing in a class surrounded with old friends, new friends, past teachers, and current students. It felt surreal having all of us earning and moving together.
After the class, we hurried to the locker rooms to change and refresh before heading over to the New York City Center for a matinee performance by the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater. The show featured many beautiful pieces, with live musical accompaniment, including the renowned “Revelations.” After the show, a talk-back allowed the audience to ask current company members questions. The afternoon was a perfect balance of education and entertainment, made possible by the Dawn Ketterman-Benner Dance Fund, which is fueled by Moravian College alumni dancers. The experience was something I will treasure always.
Above, from left to right: Melissa Rowbottom (dance company artistic director), Dawn Ketterman-Benner (founder of the Moravian College Dance Company), Major Nesby (master class instructor), Mary Anne Hoffman (dance company advisor), Karen Riehl (dance company assistant director).
My Life as a Dancer
By Samantha Anderson
The Moravian College Dance Company has had a great impact on my life. I had no formal training before I joined the company. With the guidance of Mary Anne Hoffman and her assistant directors, I realized my passion for dancing. After I graduated in 2013, I was asked to come back and assist with the company, and I’ve since performed as a professional dancer for the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks football team.
I’ve been a part of the Moravian College Dance Company for for more than eight years now. I remember dancing on the hardwood floor of the studio and having to wet our ballet shoes before doing turns to help with traction. Today, the studio has a beautiful non-slip Marley floor. I’ve seen the program migrate from being part of the athletic department to the music department. And over the past few years, we’ve even been able to offer academic classes, such as Dance History, for credit. Seeing the company grow and evolve has been an amazing experience.
Every time I enter the Moravian College Dance studio, it feels like I’m coming home. It’s an honor and pleasure to work with the talented student dancers and to offer my knowledge and experience.