Montclair BFA Dance Program Ranked Fifth Best in the Country

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Published October 9, 2016
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The Montclarion
photo courtesy of montclair.edu

Photo courtesy of montclair.edu

The BFA Dance program at Montclair State has been ranked the fifth best dance program in the country by OnStage, the most active theater-related blog on Facebook. The article praised Montclair State University’s dance program as combining ”a conservatory-based approach to training with a liberal arts curriculum to prepare students for extraordinary lives and careers as professional dancers.”

Every year, Montclair State dance and dance education majors compete at the American College Dance Festival and often move on to the national component of it at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. According to the university website, they are often recognized for “choreographic presentation, ensemble work and performance” at the festival.

Some of the guest artists who have worked closely with Montclair State University dance students over the years include Earl Mosley, Bill T. Jones, Liz Lerman and Denise Vale, a member of the Martha Graham Dance Company.

Lori Katterhenry, the deputy chair for dance in the Department of Theatre and Dance at Montclair State University, said that she was delighted to hear about the ranking for the BFA Dance program. “We worked long and hard to build our program and to be recognized in such a way was gratifying,” she said

Linda Roberts, a former faculty member at the Department of Theater and Dance who taught from 1971 to 2013, started the dance program in 1971. Katterhenry joined the team in 1986 and for many years it was just Roberts and Katterhenry.

Eventually, other current faculty members joined such as Elizabeth McPhearson, the coordinator of the BA Dance Education Program, Christian von Howard, an international dance artist and associate professor of dance, Maxine Steinman, who teaches choreography and modern dance, and Kathleen Kelley, a choreographer, dancer and dance filmmaker and an assistant dance and technology professor.

The dance program also has a wonderful group of adjunct faculty.

“It’s been a long journey. We’ve got a great group of educators, and a lot of faculty have made huge contributions as teachers and as choreographers,” said Katterhenry.

The students have made contributions to the dance program as well. “The students are incredibly hard working, driven, hungry, generous and that’s been a good combination,” said Katterhenry.

Katterhenry sees the future success of the dance program in the incorporation of technology in dance performances. With the help of new faculty, the department is beginning to develop their curriculum in dance technology. It requires very specialized classrooms and performance spaces, because they do things like video digital projections. ”This is the wave of the future, so I hope that we are going to be able to grow that arm of our program in a big way, because we are not going to go backwards, this is where we are headed,” said Katterhenry.

Ciara Sanders, a senior BFA dance major, finds being part of the fifth best dance program in the country something to be proud of. She is also impressed that the program has accepted 17 boys, which was unheard of before. She also mentioned how incredibly lucky the students are to have the gorgeous dance spaces. “A lot of people who have graduated or past teachers come back and say that we are incredibly lucky to have these spaces because when you leave you’ll have tiny studios again to rehearse in,” said Sanders.

Some of the upcoming shows in the dance department are “Works-A-Foot,” which will be performed on the weekend before Thanksgiving, and the senior showcases, which will take place right before the end of the semester. Rehearsal for the spring dance shows are already in session.

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