On A Summer Of NOT Dancing


When school is over and there are no more required weekly classes to attend, most dancers begin thinking about how they are going to keep their body in shape for the next school year. However, this summer I realized that maybe dancing wasn’t on the top my list of summer priorities. I decided not to dance as much as I would during the school year but I still wanted to stay in shape.

This was the first summer that I didn’t look for a place to dance or travel home to my home studio to take classes . I decided I was going to get a job and  save as much money as I could for the following school year. I ended up getting a job at a daycare in the Fairmount area, working five days a week. My days were usually filled with work, a stop at the gym, and maintaining my social life. Still, I had that itch that all dancers get. My body needed to move and the gym just wasn’t enough.

Week after week I was checking Instagram and Facebook to see if any of my friends were teaching classes in the area or nearby so that I could at least dance a little. Unfortunately, anytime a friend of mine was having a class I was either too exhausted from work or had no way of getting there. After a while I recognized that it didn’t seem realistic for me to try and juggle all the things I was and add dance on top of that.. So, I started exploring other options around the city. I went on mini adventures with  friends throughout Philly, took day trips to the beach and went on a vacation that definitely did not go as planned.

Even though I wasn’t dancing, I was still happy and taking advantage of any free time I had and doing other things I loved. I think as dancers we’re constantly worried about being in shape and being able to dance to our fullest potential, but sometimes taking a break from all of that is necessary. It’s ok to maybe focus on your job outside of dance more or go on some adventures with friends and eat some not-so healthy food. As I grow up and get more into this “adulting” thing, I’m realizing it’s harder to do the things you want compared to doing the things you have to do, like work. I was lucky enough to find a job that I enjoyed and would help me in the future with my career. When we’re in college, we tend to struggle with making as money as much as we spend. And as we all know, dance classes and intensives are not cheap.

So maybe taking a summer, like I did, to get a job and make some decent money is ok as a dancer. Though I love to dance, I’ve found that being realistic about my financial situations is beneficial in the long run. I’m glad that I was able to take a step back from dancing and get a hold on my outside life. Now that I’m back to dancing, I feel a lot more confident in my future and opportunities to explore it.


-Maria Smith, BFA Junior

A Student Perspective on Temple University Dance Department’s Study Abroad Program in Rome

Dancing in Italy

By: Meghan McFerran

On May 11, I embarked on my first journey traveling overseas to Europe to study abroad at Temple University’s campus in Rome, Italy! I was fortunate enough to have a very unique experience compared to the average student studying in a classroom setting. While most of my peers studying at Temple Rome packed textbooks and pencils in their backpacks in preparation for class abroad, I packed my Theraband, water bottle and a new leotard. I was going to spend the next six weeks studying dance in one of the most artistic and historic cities in the world.

As a dance major, my classroom was the dance studio at IALS, located just a few short blocks from Temple Rome’s main campus. Every Tuesday and Thursday at 9:00 am, after a quick Italian breakfast of a cappuccino and Nutella croissant at the café next door, nine of us dance majors walked into the cozy sized dance studio feeling energized and ready to move.

IALS (pronounced “yalls”) has a studio concept similar to Broadway Dance Center in New York City; you sign in at the front desk and pay to take one of the various genres of classes offered each day such as Latin, ballet, contemporary jazz, etc. Us dance majors at Temple were privileged to have our dance professor from Temple, Jillian Harris, come along on the trip with us and teach us a two-hour modern class.

Due to the small studio space, our class focused on stretching and strengthening exercises as a warm-up, and moved into floor-work, footwork and a center combination. The class focused on proper alignment, gestures, shape making, dynamics and timing. This was a nice change from our usual modern classes at Temple because we had to work with the resources that we had and be more aware of our spatial patterns. We were lucky to have Jillian’s husband, Chris Farrell, accompany us with live music, which made class more fun.

At 11:00 am, us dancers grabbed lunch at the small deli around the corner, walked a few blocks down the road to Temple Rome campus, and got ready for Creative Process. This course required us to create an original piece of choreography drawing inspiration from a piece of artwork that we saw at the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art. From this inspiration, we were to choose one theme to stick with throughout our creative process. The painting I chose was a piece called “Cielo e Mar” by Italian artist Baldo Diodato. I focused on the theme of pushing and pulling of gravity for my piece. Each class we developed our themes by creating phrases and variations of phrases, presenting our work and getting feedback from other students. For three hours, all nine of us worked in a different creative space, from the park in Villa Borghese to the small parking lot outside campus to the empty classrooms on the fourth floor. We each kept journals to document our process and to hold onto ideas that we may want to use in the future.

After a day of dancing and letting our creative juices flow, we grabbed our water bottles and journals and headed out to explore the beautiful city of Rome. Just a half mile down the street from campus was the popular Piazza del Popolo. Here you could find your way to famous hand pressed pizza, Gelateria Della Palma with over 150 flavors (my favorite was Bacio), explore the ancient ruins, stand in the forum of the Colosseum, and make a wish in the Trevi Fountain all in one day. Having class twice a week also enabled us to travel on weekends. I had the privilege of traveling to Croatia, Tuscany, Florence, Perugia, and Greece while abroad.

At the end of our six weeks in Rome, we presented our creative process pieces to the faculty and other students. The walls of Temple Rome were decorated with beautiful photos, sculptures and artwork that the other Temple students had created. Being able to share the artistic space with other students was a fulfilling experience, and each piece of art expressed our journey of growth, exploration and unforgettable moments in Italy.



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

Summer Professional Semester

Ten days ago, I packed up my balled up leotards, endless amount of socks and my foam roller and headed to the city that never sleeps, where I would begin my summer dancing journey at the Summer Professional Semester at Broadway Dance Center in New York City. As I excitedly walked through the red doors of the spacious five-studio heaven, forty-six excited students along with an inviting and encouraging staff who would soon become my new dance family greeted me. Although I was ready to show my passion on the dance floor, the administrators of the program sat us down and presented us with multiple seminars regarding professionalism. There I was guided through these presentations with tips for success in life and in dance.

More often than not, dancers look at other dancers with jealousy and envy. They wish for people’s failure only so that they can get ahead. Another common flaw of dancers is that they do not treat themselves with respect, let alone their peers. Dancers’ bodies are an instrument; therefore we need to keep it in the best shape possible, both mentally and physically. For all of those aspiring dancers out there, I am here to tell you that if you dream it, you can achieve it. The training and technique is the easy part; the most challenging aspect of making it as a successful dancer is staying positive and professional. Here are some key phrases and tips for ultimate success in the dance field:

  1. “Life is the Audition”: You could be holding the door for an agent coming to observe your dance class tomorrow; you never know who you will cross paths with that could change your life. So you better put that smile on and start spewing out those compliments.
  2. Be a well educated dancerTaking a class with a new ballet teacher? Indecisive about whether to take jazz or tap class? Research research research!
  3. Resilience is more important than talentIf you are ever tired, frustrated, or just plain want to leave class and go home to your bed, say to yourself, “I am happy to be here and ready to work!” Encourage other friends who are feeling the same way, or say it to at least five people before you walk into class. It will make class a much more positive and high-energy experience!
  4. Clap it up! Otherwise known as “clapter” (get it…laughter?) Clap, hoot and holler for your amazing peers when they get up to dance! Showing your support and love for them will make class much more exciting, fun and successful. Of course, hold on the clapter in ballet, please.
  5. Being perfect is boringYou are original; there is no one like you in this world. So flaunt it!  Accepting this and being eager to improve is one of the greatest qualities of a professional dancer. Perform with confidence and be happy to take corrections from teachers by actively responding with a “thank you” for their gift to you.
  6. Breakdown in a BreakthroughSlept through your alarm? Forgot to do your research? Late to class? Don’t blame the bus or your dog, no one in the professional world cares. Own up to your mistakes and take responsibility for your actions! You will be treated with much more respect if you admit that it was your own fault that you were late and it will never happen again.
  7. Power StanceHere’s another positivity booster: body language is everything. Studies show that just doing a power stance makes you feel more dominant and in charge of your life. When you are feeling small, weak or doubtful, stand up, raise your hands in the air, open your chest and scream, “I am powerful and limitless!” Yes, you may look crazy, but that grumpy old man sitting next to you on the subway will wish he was you, and feel a lot smaller than you just felt ten seconds before.

So there ya have it, dancers. Yes, training is important, however not nearly as important as showing that you are a trustworthy, reliable and happy professional. I would hire a girl who can do one pirouette and shows that she is happy to be here and ready to work over a dancer who does thirty-two pirouettes without even a smile or a blink of passion any day.

My experience at Broadway Dance Center as been mind-blowing and truly incredible thanks to an amazing support system of loving and genuine (not to mention talented) dancers who are powerful and limitless in my mind. The dancing has only begun, and I cannot wait to share a summer of movement and memories at Broadway Dance Center.


Meghan McFerran, BFA class of 2017