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Northampton, MA



Sam Rush, Production and Publicity Manager
(413) 585-3249; srush@smith.edu
Nikki Beck, Production and Publicity Assistant
(413) 585-3222; ncbeck@smith.edu


Smith College Department of Dance presents cutting-edge choreography and cross-border collaborations: Four new works demonstrate rigorous inquiry

Northampton, MA—This year, the Smith College MFA Thesis Concert in Choreography and Performance is fostering exciting new international partnerships, creating a stellar program of fresh artistic voices by graduate students: Shaina Cantino (USA), Sara Coffin (Canada), Mat Elder (USA) and Safi Harriott (Jamaica).

The four Master of Fine Art candidates have radically distinctive voices, creating a well-rounded and action-packed program. This year’s program features a unique merging of cross-border professional dance, with guest Canadian company Mocean Dance. Melding intellectual inquiry with physical rigor, Mocean will share the stage with many of Northampton’s established local professional dancers. Inquisitive and risk-taking, intimate yet relentless, this is a not-to-be-missed evening of dance guaranteed to delight all who attend. 

Shaina Cantino investigates the distance between two people, and their efforts to align their experiences in the same landscape. Cantino’s duet of course off course intertwines text with highly physical, quirky movement. This piece is like going for a country drive, and getting a little lost. 

Sara Coffin is bringing Halifax-based Contemporary Dance company, Mocean Dance, to present her thesis work, body abandoned.  In this trio, Coffin examines the cost of interweb connectivity to the body and our relationships with others. Coffin's choreography offers a layered, physical interpretation of the abandoned body in the age of online living.

Mat Elder explores physical risk through rhythm, time, props, and intricate partnering work. The ensemble work decision/experienced places an emphasis on in-the-moment evaluation and tests instinct and fearlessness as the dancers negotiate “risky” movement situations, bringing an element of realness readable to the audience and performers.  

Safi Harriott explores the tension between aloneness and community in her quintet, saudade. Psychic dislocation, insistence and determination manifest in complex, overlapping phrasework and a relentless physical drive. 


SHAINA CANTINO is a graduate of the National Theatre Institute and Kenyon College (BA, Distinction). Her creative and teaching work is grounded in twenty years of contemporary dance training as well as research in improvisation, environmental studies and theater. Cantino’s choreography was presented at the Kennedy Center in the 2010 National American College Dance Festival. That same year she produced Room by room, an original full-length site-specific work. Cantino has collaborated with and performed in works by Angie Hauser, Paul Matteson, Chris Aiken, Kathleen Hermsdorf, Colleen Thomas, Karl Rogers, and Alexandra Beller.

SARA COFFIN is an established professional dance artist from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Multiple award winner, Coffin is Artistic Associate for the Halifax-based contemporary dance company Mocean Dance and is an independent choreographer/dancer and dance educator. Sara graduated from Simon Fraser University, School for Contemporary Arts (BFA Dance, 2003) and Dalhousie University (BSc K, 2004). A west coast resident for 11 years, Sara has collaborated and danced with many of Vancouver’s and Canada’s finest dance artists, where she is a prominent figure in the Canadian dance landscape in performance, creation and arts advocacy. As a choreographer, Coffin's work has been presented across Canada in many prominent dance festivals and she has self-produced her own full-length work.  www.saracoffin.com, www.moceandance.com

MAT ELDER received his undergraduate degree in Theatre/Dance from Middle Tennessee State University. He has worked with numerous choreographers including Sidra Bell, Laurie Merriman, Alberto Del Saz, Travis Gatling, Cynthia Guttierez-Gardner, Paul Matteson, and Leah Cox. He performed the "Alwin Nikolais: Leaving a Legacy" national tour, Core Project Chicago's, "The Dust" Fringe Tour, MTSU's "Exodus Project" national tour, and Bill T. Jones' reconstruction of "Love Redefined" at the American Dance Festival. Intensive training includes Doug Varone and Dancers (2011), Dance Theatre of Tennessee (2011), David Dorfman Winter Intensive (2013), and the American Dance Festival (2013). Residencies/ Teaching positions include CORE Project Chicago Summer Intensive, Heritage Dance Project, Smith College, American College Dance Festival Northeastern Division, and the Williston Northampton School. Elder's work, We Live for the Crows, has traveled Nashville and Chicago. Currently, he dances and collaborates with BoSoma Dance Company, Core Project Chicago, and DOTA Dance Theatre.

SAFI HARRIOTT received her undergraduate degree (B.A.) in Anthropology and Dance from Bard College. Since 2009 she has served as Visiting Lecturer in Dance at the Excelsior Community College, and External Examiner for the Edna Manley College School of Dance in Kingston, Jamaica. She has facilitated workshops and presented choreography for the Kingston on the Edge Urban Arts Festival and the Jamaica Dance Umbrella (JDU) in addition to serving as primary coordinator and assistant to the Curator for JDU.  Harriott uses the practice of dance to activate cross-cultural investigation, and performance to engage with the force of bodily norms.

Based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Mocean Dance creates and performs athletic, vibrant contemporary dance. Led by Artistic Director Susanne Chui and Artistic Associate Sara Coffin, this versatile creation company commissions and internationalCanadian choreographers and company members to create dance that is highly physical, collaborative, and technically and emotionally rich. Founded in 2001 Mocean Dance is nationally recognized as a leading company from the Atlantic region. The company, now in its thirteenth season, is committed to its home base in Nova Scotia, contributing to the province’s growing dance and arts community by providing opportunities for creation, performance, collaboration, development and education. www.moceandance.com

Mocean Dance acknowledges the company's generous supporters: Canada Council for the Arts, The Province of Nova Scotia through ARTS Nova Scotia, the NS Department of Communities, Culture & Heritage Industry Growth Program and artsVest Nova Scotia; company sponsors East Port Properties, Office Interiors, O'Regan's, In-Kind Sponsors: ISL, The Halliburton Hotel, Deloitte, Halifax Dance, and the Smith College Department of Dance.


Thursday-Saturday, February 6, 7, 8
8:00 PM
Theatre 14, Smith College, 122 Green Street
Mendenhall Center for the Performing Arts
Admission: $9 General, $5 Student/Senior

The Smith College MFA Thesis Dance Concert is made possible in part by the Sharonjean Moser Leeds Endowment, a generous fund created by Sharonjean (SC '67) and Richard Leeds for the Smith College Department of Dance. 

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