By Jada Butler
Assistant News Editor
Over spring break, the dance department will take its annual trip to the American College Dance Association’s conference (ACDA), hosted this year by Morristown Community College in N.J. ACDA is an outstanding opportunity for dance majors to experience four days of dance classes in various styles throughout the morning and evening, and to partake in both adjudication and informal concerts. LIU Post’s dance department submits student work at the start of the spring semester. This year, two student choreographed works will be adjudicated at the conference. Selected dances are pieces choreographed by Amanda Ehrlich, a junior dance major, and Jeanelle Santiago, a senior dance major who will be attending her last ACDA this spring.
Santiago’s piece, titled, “1 Corinthians 15:33” is three minutes of contemporary dance to the song “Someday” by Olafur Arnalds. The concept for the piece came from Santiago’s life experiences. “It is about having negative and just bad people in your life that may seem to be good for you but slowly take a toll on you emotionally and physically,” Santiago said. “In the end, you become sick of it and finally let those people go.” Santiago tends to make her choreography about relatable topics. Pulling some movement from her modern dance class taught by Beth Trimm, Santiago choreographed the whole piece, and Cheryl Halliburton, former Co-Director of Post Concert Dance Company (PCDC) who retired last spring, mentored her throughout the process.
The piece is being performed in front of dozens of other dancers, choreographers, and educators. Dancers include department juniors Katelyn Cotto, Emily Bivona, Amanda Ehrlich, Alex Mitchell, a senior, and Ana Lynch-Comer, a freshman.
“I am excited to hear [the adjudicators’] wisdom regarding the piece,” Santiago said. “It is all constructive criticism and it’s only going to strengthen my choreography.” Santiago said the feedback will help when choreographing her new piece for the Spring PCDC Diversity show in April.
Ehrlich is also eager to hopefully receive positive feedback along with critiques to help her improve her piece entitled “Where the Wild Things Are” danced to the Novo Amor cover of “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses’. “I created this piece to show how important it is to express your individuality and uniqueness regardless of what society tells you,” Ehrlich said. Inspired by the quote, “In a society that profits from your self doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act,” Ehrlich worked closely with freshman Johnnier Fenner, sophomores Mary Cate Bottenus and Lauren Hiraldo, junior Gabrielle Amico, and seniors Sharayah Spruill and Ernest Williams. “This is a group of 6 hardworking dancers have been so inspiring to work with all semester.”
“During the adjudication, it’s good to see where we stand with other departments in the region,” Gabrielle Amico, a junior dance major who is attending ACDA for the third time this year, said. The opportunity to perform, learn, and witness multiple forms of dance at ACDA doesn’t come free. Most of the college groups that attend are there with full university funding. The fee for attending ACDA is $125 per student,- not including the additional $100 for food. For the LIU Post dancers, the registration fee, transportation and hotel rooms will be covered through money that they have raised throughout the year.
PCDC students have put together several fundraisers throughout the school year to support their trip. Headed by Jennifer O’Neill, a senior dance major, the fundraisers included a bake sale, a comedy show at Governor’s Comedy Club, selling Yankee Candles, and selling treats at PCDC shows. “We are always successful,” O’Neill said. “It wouldn’t be possible without the help of our PCDC supporters.”
Last year, when ADCA was hosted in Buffalo, the dance department had rented the LIU van and approximately four students drove for 8 hours there and back, with other students providing their own transportation. “It’s really unsafe,” Amico said. “I just don’t understand why they couldn’t provide us a bus and a driver.”
The school dance team, a club funded by the athletic department, not through an academic unit, travels to national competitions, with plane tickets, hotel rooms, and registration expenses paid for by the university. “Dance team gets more support than the actual dance majors,” Diamond Avant, a junior dance major, said.
Despite the lack of financial support for the trip, what is most important to the dance department is the students’ passion for expressing themselves through dance. “We’ve all worked hard to make a good name for our department,” Avant said.