It is 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning, as dance professor Pamela Licht takes attendance amongst 22 students in her World Dance: Latin class. Everyone in the class is wearing comfortable clothes and waits quietly. However, when the tropical sounds of Merengue and Bachata play, the room is filled with bubbling laughter from the students. They are eager to learn more about the movements of Latin dance in the warm and friendly environment that Pamela Licht’s enthusiastic, energetic personality creates.
Pamela Licht, a 2001 Montclair State alumna with a BFA in dance, has been teaching social dance classes on campus since 2012. For the past five years, she has been an adjunct professor in the dance department. One of the pieces of advice she gives to her students is to always follow the male’s rhythm and timing.
She has a love for dance and a sense of humor, allowing her students to enjoy the class as they learn the basics of Latin dance. She teaches a combination of techniques to her class, which consist of eight-count movements, left turns, basic marches and cuddling in Bachata.
Tiffany Cantor and Kelly Beck are dance majors in Licht’s class. While attending the second day of class, they expressed what they hope to accomplish in the class.
“I hope to learn more knowledge on the Latin dance culture,” said Cantor. “I am Colombian and I want to learn more about my heritage.”
Beck admitted, that as a tall girl, learning how to follow instead of leading is really important to her.
“I hope to learn how to lose control,” said Kimberly Chok. “Being a dance major, you are always in control. But because this is a social dance, I want to have someone else take the lead.”
Licht, who does not like to be addressed as “Professor,” recalls how she was as a Montclair State University student 16 years ago, saying she sacrificed her social life to earn her degree.
“My goal was to go get my degree and get out,” said Licht. “I took every summer and winter course I could. I got out of college in three years instead of four.”
Licht was a part of the hi-jump program where she took dance classes, such as modern dance and ballet in high school to have them accredited towards her college transcript.
In addition to being a Montclair State adjunct professor, Licht has been an Assistant Manager and Instructor at the Rogers Dance Center in Fairfield, NJ for the past 20 years. She has been a 2001 World Mambo Finalist and ranked 4th in the 2004 United States Professional American 9-Dance division.
With former partner, Azamat Evgamukov, Licht has won several Rising Star competitions, including the Manhattan Dancesport Championship, the Holiday Dance Classic and La Classique De Quebec in Montreal. In 2008, they were United States Professional Rising Star American Rhythm finalists, as well as silver medalists in the 2008 World Professional Salsa Championship held in Puerto Rico.
“I was able to use the information from my dance background here [at Montclair State] to take to my teaching elsewhere,” said Licht. “I was able to accomplish a successful teaching and competitive dance career.”
Roy Rodriguez, a senior and graphic design major, took Licht’s class in 2016. Rodriguez expressed his respect and admiration towards Licht.
“She is one of the most down to earth dance professors I’ve ever met,” said Rodriguez. “She, without a doubt, breaks this barrier teachers have with students with ease. She doesn’t put herself over her students, as she treats everyone as an equal, making it easier for students to participate in class and ask questions. Everyday with Pam made me look forward to the next class.”