UMass Amherst, Five College Dancers to Perform June 6 at Washington’s Kennedy Center

AMHERST, Mass. – Student dancers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, along with fellow performers from Smith and Mount Holyoke colleges, are scheduled to appear at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. on Friday, June 6 as part of the American College Dance Festival.

The group will perform Before/After by guest choreographer Jennifer Hart of Ballet Austin in Austin, Texas. Hart held auditions last October at the behest of UMass Amherst assistant professor of ballet Thomas Vacanti, and cast eight students to perform the piece. With that cast, Before/After was chosen by a panel of adjudicators to perform at the gala American College Dance Association (ACDA) concert at Boston University in February – along with a second piece choreographed by UMass Amherst student Sarah Elaz.

On the basis of that performance, Before/After was then chosen to be one of three pieces from across the country to be performed at the Kennedy Center as part of the larger national ACDA conference, held every other year in Washington, D.C.  

The dancers include seniors Annie Heath, Allison Dancewicz and Emily Relyea-Spivack and junior Alanna Sade-Milburg, all from UMass Amherst; Mount Holyoke College juniors Margaret Wiss and Celine Barreau; and Smith College seniors Katherine Taylor and Nadia Belkin.

Awarded a New York City Ballet Fellowship in 2011, Hart trained at Minnesota Dance Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet and San Francisco Ballet. Her performing career includes Minnesota Dance Theater, Ballet of the Dolls, and L.A Chamber Ballet, as well as independent choreographers. She teaches full-time at Ballet Austin.

Music for Before/After is Arvo Part’s Fratres violin, strings and percussion. Costumes are by Stacey St. Louis.