The Dancer’s Inner Musicality

As the first modern class of the semester finally took its course, I paraded in with great anticipation to move to adrenaline-pumping music. Three months of summer had staved off the very interaction of movement with music and the class was brimming with anticipation. As our teacher gave the 5,6,7,8 cadence to commence all movement, we were greeted with a loud, repetitive BANG. I stood in slight shock for a moment as I came to the realization that modern class would only be accompanied by a series of “booms” and “bangs” in a rhythmic formation solicited by two bongos. It took a few classes to adjust to the seemingly monotonous “noise” guiding me through class; however, this “noise” molded a new relationship with dance, music, and a deeper understanding between the two.

Over the course of various classes, I’ve come to the realization that dance is not always accompanied by radio hits but rather music in “real time” and even silence. With every strike of the bongo or every breath, there is an internal melody that comes alive through the dancer’s movement. In fact, some of the most compelling moments in a performance are achieved when there is no sound at all. This apparent “silence” allows for both the freedom of expression on the dancer’s part as well as the freedom of explanation on the audience’s part. When paired with a specific tune, there is less subjectivity and therefore less connection between the audience and dancer. The dancer is no longer restricted in their interpretation of the dance.

Though I and many other freshman dancers have initially found difficulty in relating to these “noises” from instruments, we have found an internal “noise” that beats at its own pace and is filled with the breath of a real life in real time. This invisible melody has revealed a deeper level of understanding and appreciation to my dance education. While it’s always exciting to move to the newest chart toppers, dancing to one’s internal rhythm truly exposes the beauty of dance and its connection between dancer, musician, and audience. Now as we enter the room and stand in preparation for the drilled warm-up, the first strike of the bongo becomes the entryway to the world of “me” and the world of my surrounding dancers.


-Jessie Farrigan

Freshman B.F.A.

Professor Merián Soto is collaborating with South Korean Artist Jungwoong Kim in SaltSoul

Professor Merián Soto

Professor Merián Soto

Temple Dance Professor Merián Soto is collaborating with South Korean Artist Jungwoong Kim in SaltSoul, an exploration, through dance, voice, traditional music, and experimental video, of experiencing sudden loss of a loved one, and how art evokes human capacity to address tragedy.  It is inspired by three tragic events: the death of Jungwoong Kim’s father in an auto accident when he was 10, the 6 deaths and additional catastrophic injuries caused by the collapse of a Salvation Army store in Philadelphia in 2013, and the deaths of more than 300 people- most of them high school students on a school trip- when an overcrowded ferry capsized off the coast of Jungwoong’s native South Korea.

The piece merges traditional and improvisational movement and music, voice, and experimental video.  You can see photos  and videos of the public artistic explorations the artists have done on this topic leading up to this performance.

The performance begins outside Asian Arts Initiative in the Pearl Street corridor with an invocation that is free and open to the public. From there, ticketed audience members enter inside to move with the dancers and musicians among the centers three floors, through imagined environments evoked by sound, light, and video. Tickets can be purchased by clicking the link below.

Performance Details

Thursday – Saturday, Oct 6,7,8 at 8pm

At the Asian Arts Initiative

1219 Vine Street Philadelphia

Prices: $15-20


The Balancing Act of the MFA Dance Student

The Balancing Act of the MFA Dance Student

By Amanda Keller, First Year MFA Student

As a first year MFA student in the Dance Department at Temple, I’ve quickly found that a major component to this program is being able to balance the academic rigor of the seminar classes with the equally rigorous work of choreographing and making dance works. Even after only two weeks into this program, it has become apparent to my fellow MFAers that we are going to be pulled in various directions. There is equal importance placed on examining and discussing the theoretical dance research as there is on choreographing enlightening and engaging dance works. In a way, the strict line that exists between the theory and choreographing seems to fade away.

As someone who has a Master of Arts degree in Education, I’ve been able to compare my experiences in these different graduate programs and the major difference is that the MFA requires you to make the connection between the theoretical research we are reading and apply it in a performative and unique way to your choreography. The performative component in the MFA in Dance is what compelled me to return to graduate school. Having the opportunity to incorporate a theoretical framework by using research to inform your work and create a piece with multi-layers and a real depth to it is such a rewarding experience.

Finding the time to keep up with the readings and spend time in the studio rehearsing is tricky. I’ve found that playing music I’m thinking about using in my choreography while reading for my classes has helped with the integration of the theory into the dances I’m conjuring in my head. Another thing I’ve tried is jotting down notes in my notebook when something inspires me in the reading that I want to try out in the studio. I am looking forward to discovering additional techniques and tricks to balance the demands of the program.

Temple Dance Participates in Sustainability Week

Last week, Temple Dance Department participated in Sustainability Week, Climate, Sustainability & the Arts video festival.

The festival opened Monday April 11 in the Science Education and Research building with Program 1, exhibited on the giant SERC Video Wall.

Program 1 included Professor Merián Soto’s One Year Wissahickon Park Project: Summer, which documents the summer cycle of the award-winning year-long project of 16 branch dance performances in Wissahickon Valley Park in 2007-08.

Te program also featured Professor Peter d’Agostino’s World-Wide-Walks / between earth & water / ICE, and Prof. Michael Kuetemeyer’s Spilled Light.

Program 2 also took place on April 11 in Annenberg Hall 14,  2020 N. 13th Street. It included Temple Water Dances, a compilation of student dance and video works created and presented in celebration of World Water Day (2015-16). Temple Water Dances included excerpts of works by BFA, MFA and PhD students Kristen Bashore, Bonita Bell, Long Cheng, Leslie Cornish, Morgaine DeLeonardis, Angeline Digiugno, Marina DiLoreto, Amanda DiLudovico, Jessica Halko, David Heller, Kaylie McCrudden, Tyler Ross, Blythe Smith, Angelica Spilis, and Muyu Yuan.

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 4.12.14 PM (1)

Pictured: MFA student Muyu Yuan in Temple Water Dances


Also on the program was Fishing for the Future, by Dede Maitre, and Superfundland, by  Daniel Kurtz, Christina Betz, John Tarquinio, Jesse Roehrer

-Merián Soto, Professor

Reflection: Response Choreographic Commission 2016


Dance Department 

Reflection:Response Choreographic Commission 2016

The Temple University Dance Department is pleased to announce that our fifth choreographic commission under our Reflection:Response speaker and performance series has been awarded to:

Kathy Westwater

Westwater will create a new work, titled Anywhere, which will premiere on Sept 16 &17, 2016 in Conwell Theater at Temple University. The commission includes a cash award of $5,000 and access to rehearsal space at Temple University throughout summer 2016.  Past commission recipients include Laura Peterson, Charles O. Anderson, Tatyana Tennenbaum, and Jennifer Weber.

In Anywhere, Westwater asks how a dance might engage with, and itself be, a monument. Central concerns are permanent and impermanent cultural manifestations that register and record the impact upon us of time, war, and climate—economic and environmental—and how these manifestations are rendered and experienced in public and private space. Westwater seeks to choreographically manifest a contemporary heroism found in the everyday—anywhere. Without being about a specific historical time or event, there will be a remembering of something that was lost and something that wasn’t.

Anywhere will be performed by five dancers to Henryk Górecki’s “Symphony No. 3.” It will feature a unique relationship between movement and sound through a sound integration design by Architect Seung-Jae Lee.

Kathy Westwater has choreographically pursued experimental dance forms since 1996. Described by Dance Magazine as “bloodless and fascinating” and The Brooklyn Rail as “at the limits of the human,” her work responds to the societal landscape in which it manifests by reimagining the body’s movement potential. Her work has been presented extensively in NYC in spaces such as New York Live Arts, Danspace Project, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Performance Space 122, Dixon Place, and more. Westwater has received awards from Puffin Foundation, Franklin Furnace Fund, Meet the Composer, and New York Foundation for the Arts, and has been an Artist-in-Residence at Djerassi, Movement Research, and the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. She has taught at Sarah Lawrence College since 2001.

Photo Credit: A Hitzenberger

For more information contact:

Merián Soto, Curator

Reflection/Response Commission

Photo by Jonathan Gene

D2D: Dare to Dance Hosts Prelude Philadelphia 2016

This past Sunday, D2D: Dare to Dance, Temple University’s dance company, hosted Prelude, an urban dance competition and dance battle that tours to cities across the country to showcase regional dance groups and strengthen the dance community. The #90sandChill themed competition was filled with passion, artistry and fun.

The house was full at the Kurtz Center for the Arts at William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia and radiated with positive energy. First in the competition was the dance battle, judged by Dinita “Princess Di” Clark, D2D’s co-founder Béa Martin, and Academy of Phresh’s leader, “Smart Mark.” Dancers circled the battle with shouts and leaps of encouragement for both battlers, while family and friends joined in from the audience, giving the battle an inviting feel. The battle advanced to the top 8, top 4 and then top 2 against So You Think You Can Dance’s Virgil Gadson and Kidd. From razor-sharp angulations to arms being pulled out of the socket to back flips, ticks and clicks, these battles gave dancers the chance to express themselves as a dancer and a creator.

Next was the dance competition, which consisted of about nine dance groups from the north coast that performed various styles of hip-hop. The diverse range of ages, gender and body types in the competition were pleasing to see. The crowd favorite was a local group called Academy of Phresh, who performed an entertaining routine that involved headlamps, a “Straight Outta Philly” sign, and young dancers grooving for their life. The dancer’s raw movement brought out their personalities that beamed with a love of dance.

Last in the program to perform was D2D themselves. The crew raced onstage with smiles, laughter and energy, looking like they just walked out of a 90’s fashion magazine. The 90’s theme continued as D2D danced to a mash-up of throwback hits featuring artists like Busta Rhymes and Notorious BIG. D2D danced with synchronicity, heart and a genuine family connection. The classic songs got the crowd up on their feet dancing and spreading the love.

Danzel Thompson-Stout and Béa Martin founded D2D in 2012 at Temple University. Now, both Temple graduates and working artists in Philly, they continue to serve as a father and mother figure for the crew.

D2D members completely ran the competition. Frankie Markocki, a third year D2D member and dance major, worked as stage manager for the competition. Other members worked tirelessly on piecing together the competition, from contacting the teams, acquiring a theater, deciding the creative design, all while managing their own performances. The smiles that beamed on every D2D member’s face clearly displayed Prelude’s success.

D2D members and alumni have recently been certified in Umfundalai, traveled to Florida for an event called The Thesis, and are working dancers and choreographers in the field. The 29 current members study a range of fields from business to communications to dance. Béa Martin recently graduated with a degree in neuroscience.

D2D has also competed at Battle on Broad, where they won 1st place, and World of Dance.

Mark your calendars for April 22 and 23 at 7:30pm, when D2D will host their Third Annual Showcase titled “Undefined” at Conwell Dance Theater.

D2D hosted Prelude Philly 2016 with grace, organization and sheer fun. Their level of professionalism is unmatched by any school organization, and their accomplishments have reached far outside of just the Temple community and into the professional dance world. D2D’s intentions of spreading the joy of dance and the love for the arts were clearly reflected during Prelude.

Photo by Jonathan Gene


-Meghan McFerran

B.F.A. Dance

B.A. Journalism

Summer Dance Research

A perk of being part of the Honors Program at Temple University is that my scholarship provides me with a $4,000 stipend every summer to partake in an internship or research project. I was able to attend two dance intensives, the Nathan Trice Summer Intensive and the Bates Dance Festival, with the intent of furthering my dance and choreographic research.


At the Nathan Trice Summer Intensive, I was able to study with choreographer Nathan Trice, who taught both his rigorous modern technique and three of his works. I had trained with him in high school, so it was really nice to reconnect with him and his flowy and qualitative movement style. I plan to attend the intensive again next summer. At Bates Dance Festival, I took four classes – contact improvisation with Chris Aiken, modern floorwork technique with Claudia Lavista of Delfos, modern technique with Jen Nugent, and yoga with Robbie Cook. It was three weeks of very hard work, yet I was able to meet dancers and teachers from all over the world. The Bates Dance Festival is a very cooperative and non-competitive environment in which students can study, perform and create new work. It was an extremely rewarding experience.


To finalize my summer, I got involved with The Rockaway Project, a documentary theater and photography exhibition about the spirit of Rockaway Beach in Queens, NY. Rockaway Beach was heavily devastated by Hurricane Sandy, and this production was a reminder of how well the small town pulled itself together. The director, Oona Roche, asked me to choreograph a short piece to go alongside a song that she wrote and sang about the ocean. We ended up performing the production at a small venue in Fort Tilden, a beautiful area of Rockaway. My summer experiences left me excited to bring my new kinesthetic understandings and choreographic outlook to the classroom environment.

-Elisa Hernandez, 2nd Year BFA Student

Summer Study NYC: A Contemporary Dance Intensive

4 weeks, 60 classes, 186 hours, and 6,840 minutes later, I am happy to say that I have recently completed the Summer Study NYC: A Contemporary Dance Intensive, at Steps on Broadway. I was given the incredible opportunity to study and perform under the guidance of some amazing artistic directors and choreographers working today. I knew this program was right for me because I still somehow managed to end my classes with a smile after a 5-7 hour day of dance technique and the creative process!

Since I get excited about meeting new people, I was beyond thrilled that our intensive group consisted of myself and seven other dancers, ranging from ages 19-32, lying somewhere between the pre-professional and professional dance world. I just love intimate class sizes! The smallness of the group gave me the chance to learn everybody’s name after just one day. Not bad for a girl who can’t even remember how old some of her family members are. Although I became fast friends with everyone, I ended up having a common bond with another dancer hailing from Munich, Germany. (Now I have an excuse to visit Europe again right?)

Besides sweating together in class, our little group loved to spend breaks in Central Park tanning and eating, chatting about life, and even hanging out on the weekend in Coney Island for a Mermaid Parade (yes those exist)! Not only did we bond socially, but we got to share our creative processes and learn collaborative approaches to movement creation and articulation. Our ultimate task was to create compositions in smaller groups that were to be shown at the end of the program. It was a huge hit! I feel so fortunate for this opportunity I’ve had here at Steps. The intensive was not only an excellent way to learn new skills, but we all agreed it was our key to getting one step closer to that dream we all share: being a professional dancer.


– Marina Di Loreto, BFA class of 2017