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Celebrating 35 years

A Celebration of 35 Years of the Smith MFA Program in Dance

For more than 35 years, the remarkable dance artists pursuing an MFA have enhanced the creative energy of Smith College and the Five College Dance Department. Their talent and knowledge greatly expand the breath of our undergraduates' studies and are a joy to the faculty. We are extremely proud of their many and varied accomplishments and the recognition they have received in the professional dance world and are delighted to recognize and celebrate them and our MFA program.

During the 2010-11 academic year, five alums taught adjunct courses in technique and theory or setting choreography on MFA and undergraduate dancers in the department: Mary Anne deLisle Kodzis '96, Brenda Divelbliss '99, Candice Salyers '03, Cathy Nicoli '04 and Katie Martin '10. As part of a two-year commemoration, three MFA alumnae returned to Smith in 2009-10: one, Candice Salyers, to teach, and two, Megan Bonneau McCool '99 and Heidi Henderson '98, to choreograph new dances for our students.

In Fall 2010 the dance department hosted a special concert featuring choreography and/or performances by eight MFA alums: Brenda Divelbliss '99, Jennifer Kayle '99, Cathy Nicoli '04, Rebecca Nordstrom '79, Peter Schmitz '86, Virginia Scholl '79, Sarah Seely '01 and Thomas Vacanti '04.

The MFA degree program at Smith started in the fall of 1976, coinciding with the establishment of the Five College Dance Department. On our 35th anniversary, we are very proud to celebrate the remarkable successes of our 145 alumni.

Some MFA alumni have established their own dance companies; many have become performers and/or choreographers; there is a lawyer, a midwife, a minister, an actor, a physical therapist, and there are several writers. A great many have become artist-educators in secondary schools and colleges and universities, some with Ph.D.s. They continue to contribute to the dance communities in the United States, Portugal, Israel, Taiwan, Poland, Ireland, France, Greece, Scotland, the Dominican Republic, Canada and the Middle East.

The dance companies started by our alums include The Gooseroute Arts Collaborative (Kitty Clark '97); The Dance Generators West (Amie Dowling '97); Elephant Jane (Heidi Henderson); The Architects (Jennifer Kayle and Pamela Vail '94); Falling Angel Project (Karen Murphy '91); Bennett Dance Company (Christy Bennett '96); and Elm City Dance Collective (Kellie Lynch '07).

Many graduates are or have been performers in dance companies, (e.g. Doug Elkins, Bebe Miller, Tania Issacs, Dance Companies), and many have contributed choreography to their own companies or in venues like Fresh Tracks, Movement Research and St. Marks in NYC or as guest choreographers in secondary schools, camps, and colleges and universities.

Many Smith MFAs go on to teach in leading colleges and universities including: Bennington College, Bucknell University, Dean College, Franklin and Marshall College, Hampshire College, Hunter College Middlebury College, Missouri State College, Northern Illinois University, Providence College, Rhode Island College, Rodger Williams College, San Francisco State University, Slippery Rock University, Springfield College, Tufts University, the University of Iowa, the University of Oklahoma, Wake Forest University and Williams College. Public or private high schools or preparatory schools include The Ethel Walker School, Boston Latin, Noble and Greenough School, the Taft School and the Williston Academy.