MA Program: Student Perspective

My name is Shannon O’Hara, I am a native of New Jersey and am currently working towards my Master of Arts in Dance. After graduating with my bachelor’s degree I felt that graduate school would be an integral part of my growth and development as a professional in the field of dance. After graduating with my Bachelor of Arts in Dance Education I felt that I was equipped with a solid foundation of information and experience but sensed that my research and participation in academia was just beginning. During my time at Temple I hope to continue my research in dance education while also exploring and developing my voice as a creator and scholar. As I continue through my own education I am presently most interested in developing ways to utilize multiple roles of dance to better educate and influence how I approach all experiences I have with this fine art form. Research topics I am also interested in investigating during my time at Temple are the representation of pedagogical courses in higher education as well as the content of dance teacher preparation programs in the academy. Thanks to Temple’s graduate school programs, I am able to continue my own education while working to contribute to the dance community as a whole.



ACDA Experience

Ever since I found out about ACDA when I was a freshman in college, it was a personal goal to be accepted to attend the festival. Year after year, I was in works that were submitted but ultimately, not chosen. Finally, my senior year I was able to attend and I was pumped!
For those who don’t know, ACDA (American College Dance Association) is an organization geared towards supporting dance in higher education through providing national programs that provide a variety of classes, performance opportunities, lecture series, and networking events. Temple is a part of the Northeast Regional Conference which was held in SUNY-Brockport this year. The trek was long, but the studios were beautiful!!
The range and amount of classes provided offered variety and flexibility which was a nice change from regular, semester long classes. Some of the classes I took included partner stretch, intermediate ballet, choreographic voice and social justice, an ADF Audition class, Jamaican Dance Hall, modern dance with one of the graduate students who presented work, and advanced contemporary modern dance taught by one of the adjudicators- Ruben Graciani.
As a transfer student, I understood the differences in course structure within different dance departments at colleges and universities. From the hotel room, to classes on campus and attending the adjudication concerts, ACDA was a wonderful experience to network with other dancers in the northeast region and learn about their program and previous training.
If I had to choose my favorite aspect of the program, I would choose the final Gala performance. The three adjudicators chose the top 10 pieces out of all 5 previous concerts based on composition, musicality, aesthetic design, etc. The diversity of movement style and theme celebrated just how powerful, eclectic, and connected the art form of dance is to society. The audience was incredibly supportive of each piece which created an amazing atmosphere. At the end of the day, everyone at ACDA chose to major in dance to share our passion for movement performance and its connection to community which was reiterated in the Gala performance.
-Katie Moore
Senior, B.F.A Dance, Business Minor
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

Complexions Performance and Master Class Review

Complexions Contemporary Ballet was the first of eight companies to perform at the Prince Theatre in downtown Philadelphia, as part of Dance Affiliate’s NextMove series.

Complexions Co-Founder Dwight Rhoden arranged seven of his works for the Philadelphia stage.

The show opened with Ballad Unto… a Philadelphia premiere. With each articulation of the spine and brush of the arabesque, seven couples poured emotions of love and heartbreak into brisk and graceful movements en pointe.  Seamless partnering and gestural unison sections made the piece successful.

Next in the program was Gone, a trio performed by Kelly Marsh IV, Greg Blackmon and Timothy Stickney that illustrated a fight for survival. The men captured this motif beautifully, transitioning with ease from soars and darts through the air to complex floor work. The choreography and concept of the piece illuminated the athleticism of these three professionals.

Addison Ector stole the stage in Choke, a male duet exploding with themes of dominance and competition. Ector’s facials remained casual and royal while he whipped out triple attitude turns followed by a series of controlled extensions.

The final piece took an enormous risk on dance and artistry and succeeded with flying colors. Strum was a full company piece set to the music of Metallica. Watching this piece was like tasting, smelling and touching a rock concert through dance. The walking pathways were one of the most powerful aspects. Timothy Stickney stole the spotlight, expressing qualities of insanity, passion and pure stardom.


Master Class with Ashley Mayeux

On Friday, I attended the Complexions master class at Philadanco!, taught by dancer Ashley Mayeux.

I was surprised to find the class was mostly filled with younger dancers, around high school age, with little training in ballet or contemporary techniques. After a standard, fairly easy ballet barre, Ashley taught us part of a Complexions finale dance. The choreography was very basic and more fun than technical. I think this was largely due to the skill level of the class. Although I was somewhat disappointed that the master class was not up to the level or rigor that I expected, I appreciated Ashley’s professionalism and willingness to cater the class to the average ability level of the room. She made the class enjoyable for all of the dancers. If nothing else, I obtained valuable information from watching Ashley in class. I observed her artistic choices and studied how I can apply these choices to my dancing.



-Meghan McFerran

B.F.A. Dance

B.A. Journalism

Complexions Contemporary Ballet Comes to Philadelphia

Complexions Contemporary Ballet, an internationally recognized ballet company based out of New York City, will perform at the Prince Theater in Philadelphia from October 14-18.

Founded by former Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dancers Desmond Richardson and Dwight Rhoden, Complexions is recognized worldwide not only for impeccable training and technique, but dedication to dynamic and passionate movement for more than 20 years. The highly technical dancers of Complexions Contemporary Ballet aim to break all cultural and stylistic boundaries to create an open dance environment that emphasizes multi-ethnicity and connection with life’s journeys.

As a means to share and spread their culture, Complexions recently designed Beyond 20, a campaign that plans to nationally expand the company. Beyond 20’s first initiative is opening a new Complexions office in Atlanta, Georgia. Philadelphia is an important stop along the way in this campaign.

The company is excited to perform and share their art here in the city of brotherly love, says Dwight Rhoden, Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of Complexions Contemporary Ballet. “Philadelphia has always been a warm and inviting audience for Complexions and what we love about Philadelphia is that there is always an amazing energy in the theater. People seem to be always engaged, ready to love dance,” Rhoden said.

Dancer Ashley Mayeux

Complexions Dancers Ashley Mayeux and Andrew Brader

What can you expect to see at the show next week?

Complexions will premiere three pieces in Philadelphia: And So It Is, Cryin’ to Cry Out, and Strum. Each work aims to pull at various emotional strings to capture human emotion and connect with a range of audience members.

And So It Is is a piece en pointe that reflects love, dreams and fate, set to the elegant music of Johann Sebastian Bach.

The work Cryin’ to Cry Out is inspired by Jazz singer Jimmy Scott and expresses how to cope with pain during times of heartbreak.

Strum is a large group work that emphasizes individual voices and story telling. Set to the music of Metallica, Strum exposes the questioned themes of life, death and evolution.

Amidst these new groundbreaking pieces will be a sprinkling of works from the past 20 years of Complexions’ diverse repertory. The program includes motifs of brotherhood, survival, faith, history, and personal journeys.

The New York Times recognizes Complexions Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director Desmond Richardson as “One of the great modern dancers of his time.“ Richardson is praised for his captivating and cutting-edge work in the dance field. I had the privilege of asking Richardson about his life dedication to dance. Click HERE to read the exclusive interview.

Get your tickets today!










The performances will take place:

Wednesday, October 14 at 7:30PM

Thursday, October 15 at 7:30PM

Friday, October 16 at 8:00 PM

Saturday, October 17 at 2:00PM and 8:00 PM

Sunday, October 18 at 3:00 PM


To stay updated with Complexions in Philadelphia, visit

Follow @ComplexionsNYC on Twitter

Complexions Contemporary Ballet on Facebook


Meghan McFerran

B.F.A. Dance

B.A. Journalism




Red Earth Calling

Red Earth Calling

Associate Professor of Dance Jillian Harris has brought her career to new heights with the success of her co-produced dance film, Red Earth Calling. This multi-media work is a collaboration with choreographer, director and producer Jennifer Jessum. The dance film explores ideals of love, mystery and spirits. Harris’s work was recently shown at Ririe Woodbury’s 2015 Momentum Festival at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Harris received her B.F.A. in dance at the University of Utah and later traveled nationally with the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company. Momentum is staged each year to celebrate the works of the company’s alumni. Harris was one of six choreographers to present unique work in the festival on August 27 and 28. Red Earth Calling was the first dance film to be shown at Momentum. The film, shot in Moab, Utah at Arches National Park, explores the narrative of a lost man in the desert who becomes enchanted by a spirit of the land. According to Salt Lake City Weekly‘s “Entertainment Picks”, Red Earth Calling serves as an excellent example of how works of Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company alumni contribute to the constantly evolving dance culture.


-Meghan McFerran

B.F.A. Dance

B.A. Journalism