This past spring break, while most college students returned home; soaked up some sun; or slept; some of the Dean College dancers spent time in the studios rehearsing and preparing for the American College Dance Festival. The Dean College dancers were invited to present two works, a student choreographed piece represented by Jessica Pretty, and a faculty choreographed piece represented by Professor Gregory King. Over the course of the week, the dancers would rehearse at Dean and then wake up bright and early on Thursday morning to promptly leave Dean at 6:30 AM, a time that some of us have not seen in a while. Attending were the Dancers and three other faculty members Dean of the School Of Dance Jullianne O’Brien Pedersen, along with ballet instructors, Jill Silverman and Jeremy Ruth Howes. There were plenty of laughs at that early hour observing ballet instructor Jeremy Ruth Howes attempt and succeed to drive and navigate the giant uhaul carrying all the tables for Professor Kings piece.
We arrived at UMASS Amherst where the festival was being held; now awake after a nap and some coffee, the dancers as well as the faculty were ready for anything. The next task was the find the theatre….this is a difficult task, have you seen the UMASS campus, its huge! When the two vans with the dancers were off to find the theatre, myself, Jeremy and Gregory had the lovely task of finding the loading dock for the tables…this was not easy because we had no clue where the dock was located as well as driving a large uhaul around a large and curvy campus. But we succeeded, eventually asking numerous helpful strangers for direction.
Each piece in the festival was allowed 15 minutes for a tech to block and light the pieces. Jessica Pretty’s piece “the (Wo)men who danced” tech first and following that was the other piece Gregory choreographed, “Parkour.” After tech-ing we had about an hour or so to eat, stretch, dress, and prepare for the first adjudicated concert of the festival. Finally it was Showtime, “the (Wo)men who danced” performed first gracing the stage with a beautiful and well rehearsed performance.
This was a bittersweet moment because this was the last time this piece was performed. After performing for more then 3 times at Dean we ended the run with a strong finish. Now it was time for “Parkour,” we had all the other dancers from Dean help set up the tables in the wings before performing. This was the closing number of the concert. Light went up and so did our energy; the thumping from the bass in the music and roar of the crowed not only motivated us as performers but also gave us an adrenaline rush!
After performing and loading the tables back onto the uhaul, we returned to the hotel to freshen up for the Joffrey ballet performance. The only way to summarized this show was technical execution at its finest. These dancers were so strong and skilled it was unreal. For the remainder of the festival, the dancers took classes, went swimming in the pool and tried to relax as much as possible.sh like no other.
On the last day, we go to watch the other performances as well as our schools last piece being represented in the informal showing. Gabrielle Stamm choreographed an athletic and corky duet for herself and sophomore male dancer Gerard Wolfgang. This gave the audience a breath of fresh air and something to smile at, Ending Dean College’s time at ACDFA on a high note. All dancers and faculty member were happy with their performance and even happier to get in the van and return back to Dean for a good nights rest. I think Dean College was extremely well represented by both its dancers and faculty members, and made a statement to other schools that the Dean College dancers are something to look out for.