Cue the music. Wilson college’s dance company, Orchesis, was invited to the American College Dance Association (ACDA) to participate in a four-day long event packed full of diverse dance classes and shows to admire. From jazz, tap, and West African dance, Samantha Heckendorn ‘20, Grace Wellmon ‘22, Jessica Rice ‘21, Sean Alan Miller (Grad student) , Joshua Legg (MFA director), and I to Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA, were available to accompany Megan Mizanty, a visiting dance professor at Wilson, to partake in all of the classes offered and meet many amazing people. The ACDAs are designed so dancers who are invited can take classes taught by the choreographers that have also been invited. The choreographer can come from the other visiting schools or even be a graduate student from any school. Mizanty was able to teach a class, “Sounding while Moving: A Dance Theatre Workshop,” and loved meeting all levels of dancers. Each of us students took varying classes and after we finished each day, we were able to see performances from the peers we danced with all day.
The ACDAs is a place for all dancers. If you have an open mind and a willingness to try and let your body work, then it will be the time of your life. It was truly the chance of a lifetime to go and be with all of those amazing dancers and learn how to move my body in new ways. I adored all of the classes I took. Two in particular struck a chord with me just because in the two short hours I was given with them, they changed my heart about dance.
The first class that touched me was the pole dancing class taught by Aubrey Worek. There were five poles in the studio of 20 dancers. She could sense the nerves lingering in the room and she stopped us before we could reach the poles. Worek encouraged us to notice that this is about listening to our bodies and having confidence in ourselves. We didn’t have to be classically trained to have the strength to get up and smile and feel connected to ourselves. That’s what dance is. It is about being connected to yourself and being connected to who or what your dancing with. That advice stuck with me because that’s what Orchesis is. Orchesis is not about how classically trained can you be; it is about showing your love of dance.
Gabriel Mata, a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Maryland- College Park, revived my passion for dance. I had felt a little lost in the past weeks of not feeling connected to myself and dance but he took two hours of my time and changed me. I took “Talking Dances- Creating Individual Choreographic Approaches,” and we spent the class discussing ways to tap into to dance that were unconventional. The objective of the class was to take our warm ups and compile a solo based off a personal story we spoke as we danced. Mata caught my attention when he stated, “A solo is a confession. It’s not easy to put your heart out but do it. Just try. Promise me that you will always try.” He peered around the room with his cheeky smile. He got all of us out of our comfort zones within the first hour and we all felt so intertwined. He shared his personal struggle with his homosexuality on the stage in one of the shows and that is what influenced him to help us share our own confessions. It was truly breathtaking and an honor to be taught by him. After my solo, I felt connected to dance again. Wilson has opened me up to the world of dance and professors like Legg and Mizanty keep it alive on campus.
Being at the ACDAs was beyond a privilege that I will always be grateful to Mizanty for inviting me. Each of us dancers brought different perspectives home to Wilson but it was an experience I will never forget.