Professor Merían Soto Awarded 2016 Leeway Transformation Award

Congratulations to Professor Merìan Soto for being awarded the 2016 Leeway Transformation Award and for her feature in Contact Quarterly! Read about Soto’s commitment to the Philadelphia dance community and her recent artistic explorations HERE!

Soto’s work Todos Mis Muertos (1996) is inspired by life, death, and memories of her treasured Mamita. The piece was recently reconstructed and performed for the Fleisher Art Memorial. Read more about Soto’s choreographic process and spiritual endeavors HERE!


Photo Credit: Bill H

Parsons Dance- Wake Up and Smell the Coffee


Imagine the feeling you get when you take that first sip of coffee on a sunny morning, excited and ready to conquer the day. This is Parsons Dance.


Artistic Director David Parsons has created more than 75 works on the New York City born modern dance company, three of which made their premiere in Philadelphia at the Prince Theater last week. Even after 32 years, Parsons Dance does not show one wrinkle or gray hair; the company is more energized and youthful than ever. Parsons Dance revitalizes modern dance with a shot of espresso, a splash of positive vibes, and a breath of fresh air.


Thursday night’s performance included robots, floating, and partying.


The Machines (world premiere) – Eight small green lights reflected on the cyc like laser pointers. Darkness came next, followed by a large flash of light. The light illuminated two floating drones in the middle of the stage. The dancers moved with caution around these unfamiliar objects.  With each swift directional change of the robots, the dancers lost control of their own bodies through pushing and pulling, rising and falling as though they were being manipulated by the drones. Red lights, screeching sounds and frantic interweaving suggested an alien invasion. The piece concluded with the movers running in circles under the drone, unable to escape from it’s reign, or possibly unable to escape from technology that is taking over society. Parsons collaborated with Dr. Youngmoo Kim and his team of engineers from the ExCITe Center (Expressive and Creative Interactive Technologies Center) at Drexel University. Following the piece, the team explained some of the technological secrets behind the movement and tracking of the drones. Parsons and Kim hope to have just as many drones as dancers on stage one day. “Great art inspires technology,” Dr. Kim said passionately as he explained that this project is just the beginning of something groundbreaking in both art and science.


Hand Dance was both an intricate and simplistic piece that explores various human activities using only hands. The lighting by Tony award winning Howell Binkley largely contributed to the success of the piece. The floating, body-less hands that disappeared and reappeared into blackness created clever images such as a man walking down a hill, twiddling thumbs, rowing a boat, and dancing to country music.


Finding Center- Inspired by the artwork of Rita Blitt, this playful piece explored feelings of falling in love, being youthful and having fun. The music guided the Paul Taylor inspired movement displayed seemingly effortless swinging, wrapping, under curves and spiraling in and out of the floor, one melting right into the next. Partner work displayed beautiful lines and shapes that oozed into the next flawless turn, topped with refreshing smiles and expressions of genuine happiness. I felt that mid-morning buzz of coffee hit me.


Ian Spring majestically performed the famous 1982 solo “Caught.” Although I had seen this piece a few years ago, I was equally as enchanted by the snapshot imagery and evolution of each image displayed by Spring in the air as he disappeared and reappeared around the stage with each flash of the strobe lights. “It is really a duet between the lighting designer and the dancer,” Spring said when an audience member asked him the secret to his “floatation powers” during the talk back. The most impressive part of this piece was Spring’s silent landings.


In The End- “It’s a piece about partying,” Parsons said with a snicker. The work was casual appearance and movement, “chill” as the millennials would call it. As a dancer I know how difficult it is to remain “chill” while constantly turning in different directions, flying through partners, falling to the floor and springing back up again, and sharply accenting the music while making it look like I am at a party being careless and fun…not to mention in jeans and with my hair down.


Parsons delivered the perfect length of diverse repertory that entertained us with some original classics and some new refreshing work that excites the future of the company. David Parsons continues to passionately drive his work forward; he recently launched GenerationNOW fellowship, in which young choreographer’s enroll in a one-year mentor program with Parsons and then joins the company on tour the following season!


Parsons dance breeds refreshingly effortless, athletic, and delightful movers that inspire not just dancers but all people to take a deep breath, smile and get moving.


-Meghan McFerran

B.F.A. Dance

B.A. Journalism





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


CORD Conference Presenters from Dance Department



The Congress on Research in Dance (CORD) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides opportunities for dance professionals from a broad range of specialties to exchange ideas, resources, and methodologies through publication, international and regional conferences, and workshops. The organization encourages research in all aspects of dance and related fields and promote the accessibility of research materials. This year, CORD celebrates its 50th anniversary!


CORD Conference Presenters from Dance Department

We have several Dance Department faculty members who will be presenting papers at CORD’s annual conference in November. Professors’ Sally Ann Ness, Sherril Dodds and Mark Franko will all be participating. The conference is held at a different location in the U.S. or abroad every year and this year the conference will take place at Pomona College in Claremont, California. This year’s conference title is: Beyond Authenticity and Appropriation: Bodies, Authorship and Choreographies of Transmission. Sherril Dodds will be presenting on a panel titled, Forever Contemporary: Pop Star Choreographies of Mediated “Authenticities.” Her paper will examine Michael Jackson’s facial choreography, in dialogue with black performance theory, to demonstrate how he resists, negotiates and challenges the limited framework of black masculinity provided by popular music. Sally Ann Ness’s will be presenting a paper titled, Encounters with Wild Bears: Trans-Species Relations in Yosemite National Park. Her presentation examines the history of human-bear encounters in Yosemite National Park illuminates choreographies of “the wild” in both public and private contexts of American culture and society. Bears and humans in Yosemite move each other into forms of action that are ritualistic as well as spontaneous and instinctive as well as intelligent. A case in point from a rock climbing excursion undertaken in 2012 demonstrates the trans-species character of choreographic meaning-making emblematic of visitor cultural performances in Yosemite. Acting in concert, bears and humans move together through an eco-semiotics of inter-habitation creating forms of spatial practice in which new embodiments of wildness emerge.

Touring with Kariamu and Company

Touring with Kariamu and Company

After graduating Temple’s Dance Program with a B.F.A. in dance, I was fortunate enough to tour with Kariamu and Company. I will always be grateful for this experience because it is often hard for performers to get gigs straight away out of college, and sometimes dancers end up falling into a job that they do not enjoy. Kariamu and Company kept me grounded in what I wanted my life to be while I had a job that was the total opposite. Being able to tour gave me the chance to receive a glimpse into the life I am starting to journey on. I have terrible fear of heights and airplanes, but touring with Kariamu and Company made me suck it up. As a person of the arts, you will do anything for your craft because you know it is what makes you truly happy. From flights to hotel rooms to rehearsals and actual performances, I had a chance to really connect with other dancers who are in the same position I am or have been there and are now figuring out their next chapters in their dance career. It was great to learn from other dancers and have a genuine connection with other people who are just as hungry for this life as I am. What I also took away from this experience is that I have accomplished one thing outside of my college career that I am proud of. I have toured nationally for a play starring a five time Grammy nominated jazz singer, performed pieces by a choreographer who has developed her own dance technique called Umfundalai, and worked with an award-winning visual artist. I never really had the time to sit down and think about it. Being able to work with such a passionate family who started a story from scratch and turn it into a multifaceted show has been such a blessing. There will be times, as a performer, where you will question if this is the life for you, but always remember you have this beautiful spirit that can’t be confined to a 9-5 so let it flourish and just watch what magnificent things start to appear more and more each day because of it.


To learn more about Kariamu and Company and the Clothesline Muse, click here


-Sophiann Moore

Temple BFA 2015



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

Kathy Westwater: SHAKE/WALK Workshop at Temple University

Kathy Westwater: SHAKE/WALK Workshop at Temple University

On Friday, April 1, Kathy Westwater will teach her Shake/Walk Workshop at Temple University. The workshop is a platform for an aspect of her creative practice as a choreographic dance artist. What began as a therapeutic effort to alleviate strains that arose in the choreography she made, over time became compelling for the formal possibilities embedded in it. Shake/Walk was and has remained something that feels good to do.

Westwater will work with students during a one-week intensive Aug 22-26, and perform work in the Reflection/Response Concert on September 16-17, 2016.
The first Shake/Walk Workshop took place at Movement Research in NYC in 2012. Subsequent workshops took place at Gibney Dance Center in 2013 and 2014, and again at Movement Research in 2015. The last workshop at Movement Research also included a culminating performance with the students at Movement Research at Judson Church on November 9, 2015.

Westwater is eager to share this workshop with Temple dance students in anticipation of her Reflection:Response Commission and Premiere in September in the Cornwell Theater. This workshop will serve as an “audition” to participate in the concert.

Workshop Description

When: Friday April 1, 1:45-3:45PM

Where: Conwell Dance Theater

Taking two everyday forms of movement, we will allow these forms to disorganize within, and be disorganizing of, our bodies. As we explore in solo, duet, and ensemble improvisations, moving periodically in contact and/or with eyes closed, lines between states of order and disorder will be at times stark and at others blurred. The sensations that arise within this unstable and unbound matrix range from chaotic to cathartic, and from disorienting to freeing. We will shift our attention from sensation to function to composition as the workshop unfolds, delving deeper into the formal potential found within experiential states of disorder.


Photo Credit: Tod Steelie


My Summer Dance Experience

My Summer Dance Experience

This summer, I studied at an intensive called DCNS (Dance Creating New Stars) directed by Dara Stevens-Meredith and LaCeda Nelson. The goal of DCNS is to train employable dancers by teaching classes that develop dancers’ technique, creativity, confidence, and lifelong passion for dance. Every weekday for three weeks, I trained for eight hours a day in ballet, modern, jazz, composition, repertory, and dance terminology. DCNS was one of the most challenging things I have done in my life. The faculty treat you like a professional, and expect that you act professionally as a result. After long hours of dancing, I would go home to take notes, practice my choreography, and memorize ballet terms so that I could come in the next day ready to take on anything that was thrown at me.


My favorite day of the intensive was when Troy Powell came and taught a master class. I aspire to be like the dancers in Alvin Ailey one day, and I have recently become very interested in Horton technique. Being able to take a class from a former Ailey dancer and now the director of Ailey II was such a privilege. Once piece of advice Mr. Powell gave us before we left is to value your dancing every day, and as a result you will always learn something new about yourself and continually improve.

-Meghan McFerran

3rd Year B.F.A.

Carols in Color 2014

Carols in Color 2014

This past weekend, I performed as a professional dancer for the first time in Eleone Dance Theatre’s Carols in Color. We danced at  The Grand Opera House in Wilmington, Delaware. Going into the performance, I had no idea what to expect. I was nervous but incredibly excited to finally display all of the pieces we had been working on since September.

As our company arrived at the theater, we were taken down to the dressing rooms, where we each got our own chair and a mirror with twinkling lights around it. Butterflies fluttered in my stomach as I took in a moment that I had been dreaming about since I was a child. My own mirror! I felt like a movie star as I started to prepare for my performance.

Because I was playing the part of an angel, I was put into a beautiful, long white dress. Everyone looked more angelic than I imagined. We stretched and warmed up backstage and ran a few numbers on stage.
Finally, the house was full and it was time to perform. The special element about Carols in Color is that there is a live choir accompanying our dancing. We hadn’t rehearsed with the singers prior to the show, so hearing their amazing voices along with our costumes and dancing made the show a perfect dream. I became engulfed in the story we were portraying, and I really felt like I was part of the nativity scene.

At the end of the show, all of the dancers came onstage and the choir sang “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” as we swung our skirts to the famous Christmas tune. Tears welled up in my eyes as I looked out into the smiling, inspired audience and up at the shimmering lights shining down on me. I had completed my first show dancing professionally, and officially started my dancing career.

I am so blessed to be a part of the Eleone Dance family, and I cannot wait to continue performing for the rest of my life.


Meghan McFerran

2nd Year B.F.A. Dance, B.A. Journalism