About This Program

Available as a major and a minor.

Facebook

Like us on Facebook.

Instagram

Follow us on Instagram

Contact

Sarah Zehnder
Director of Dance
(413) 748-3805
szehnder@springfield.edu

In our dance major, you’ll develop your individuality, creativity, dance knowledge, and technique while preparing for a career in dance, a related field, or graduate programs in dance education, dance/movement therapy, somatics, or similar studies.

You can combine dance with other areas of study, such as psychology, to further prepare yourself for a career in dance education or therapy. Or, you can take courses in management and economics to prepare for a career as a dance studio owner. 

See below for more information the audition process for our dance program.

Group of dancers leap in the studeio
LIFE AS A DANCE MAJOR
Study what you love

Have a passion for dance? Students in this major study dance in depth and prepare for a career in dance or a related field. Read about Alexandra MacPherson's '21, DPT '23 experience as a double major in Dance and Physical Therapy. 

Two dancers perform an African Dance piece on stage
LIFE AS A DANCE MAJOR
Get moving

Dance students are often involved in performances that are part of our William Simpson Fine Arts Series

dancers in the dance studio
LIFE AS A DANCE MAJOR
Enjoy your studio

As a dance major, you'll be able to practice in our expansive dance studio space, right on campus. 

Two dancers perform a hip hop routine
LIFE AS A DANCE MAJOR
Pursue your passion

The dance major gives students many opportunities to develop their individuality, creativity, dance knowledge, and technique.

Springfield College Dance Professor Sarah Zehnder led her students in her Repertory Dance class through a community dance project.

Springfield College Dance Professor Sarah Zehnder led her students in her Repertory Dance class through a community dance project in which dancers interviewed seniors currently isolated, creating gestural movements from their answers, teaching the senior the movements via zoom or facetime, and doing some video editing to create a duet.

From the interviews with the isolated participants, the students created gestures from their stories, taught their interviewees the gestures and recorded the movements, and created a larger movement phrase from these gestures for themselves and pasted it together as one dance. This project is another example of the art of Dance being powerful, healing, and bringing communities together. 

Watch the videos

Assistant Professor of Dance/Director of Dance

Sarah Zehnder

is an NYC based dance artist. Zehnder Dance, established in 2010, is known for commanding physicality, boldness and architectural precision, and has been produced nationwide, performing in such prestigious festivals as Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out, Reverb International Dance Festival, Pasadena Dance Festival, DUMBO Dance Festival, the MAD Festival, Midwest RAD Festival, and the Women in Dance Project (NYC and Chicago). Her work has been presented at Dixon Place, Ailey Citigroup Theatre, Manhattan Movement and Arts Center, Gowanus Arts, Triskelion Arts Center, 92nd Y, Greenspace, and the Center for Performance Research. 

Sarah Zehnder poses during a dance

Lani Nahele (a.k.a. Lisa Schmidt)

is deeply dedicated to the study of movement and the body. Formerly, as a member of the Trisha Brown Dance Company, she performed and taught throughout the USA and Europe. Her work has been presented at numerous theatres in Germany, France, and the United States.  She has guest taught at Bard College, Smith College, Julliard College, and Keene State College.  She is the director of Studio rEvolution, in Florence, MA.  A Certified Practitioner of Body-Mind Centering, her studio is the home of her private bodywork practice, Embodied Healing.

Lani Nahele poses outside

Angela Vital-Martowski

was a University of Massachusetts Amherst Chancellor’s Award recipient and received her certificate in ballet Pedagogy from the Hartt School (The University of Hartford through The Hartford Ballet) and is trained in the Vaganova technique. Combining dance and fitness has become a passion and she is certified in all forms of Zumba, Barre Method, and Hoop fitness. Angela has been teaching for over 20 years all over New England, including in her own studio The Dance Studio of Wilbraham,  where she has been the artistic director for 18 years.

Angela Vital-Martowski headshot

Tara Murphy

Originally from Washington, D.C., Tara grew up studying ballet and theater. She earned her B.A. in theater and religious studies at Yale University.  At this time Tara also began exploring her heritage through African studies and was awarded a fellowship to study traditional dance and drumming at the University of Legon in Ghana, West Africa. For the past 25 years, she has studied closely with many African and Afro-Caribbean artists in Washington, D.C., New York City and Boston. Her primary mentors have been Issa Coulibaly and Joh Camara of Mali; Mohamed Kalifa Kamara of Guinea; Fatou N’Diaye and Astou Sagna of Senegal; and Jean Appolon of Haiti. In addition to African dance, Tara has also practiced yoga and meditation since she was a child. Tara recognizes the practice of African dance and drumming as a tremendous force for healing, meditation, empowerment, and community. It is her greatest honor to share the inspiration of these ancient traditions.

Tara Murphy

 

Dancers Against Racism Series: Move for the Movement

This fall, students in the Springfield College Dance program will perform in both virtual and live events led by guest artists using dance as a platform and lens to discuss racism. All classes and discussions will be accessible via Zoom.

Join on Zoom

Schedule

West African Dance and Discussion with Tara Murphy (all levels)
Oct. 5 from 1:35-2:35 p.m.

Originally from Washington, D.C., Murphy grew up studying ballet and theater. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in theater and religious studies at Yale University, where she also began studying African dance. At this time, Murphy began exploring her heritage through African studies, and was awarded a fellowship to study traditional dance and drumming at the University of Legon in Ghana, West Africa. For the past 25 years, she has studied closely with many African and Afro-Caribbean artists in Washington, D.C., New York City, and Boston. Her primary mentors have been Issa Coulibaly and Joh Camara of Mali, Youssef Koumbassa of Guinea, and Jean Appolon of Haiti. Murphy currently teaches African dance and drumming at Springfield College, The Community Music School of Springfield, Stoneleigh Burnham School, and many other venues throughout New England. She also is the founder and director of Ammaya Dance and Drum, a professional dance company rooted in African and diaspora traditions. Murphy recognizes the practice of African dance and drumming as a tremendous force for healing, meditation, empowerment, and community. It is her greatest honor to share the inspiration of these ancient traditions. 

West African Dance with Jason Aryeh (all levels)
Oct. 7 from 1:45-2:45 p.m.

Jason Aryeh is a modern and traditionally trained dancer and historian from the coastal area of Accra, Ghana, and born into the Aryeh family of court traditional historians and dancers of the Ga-Ngleshie people. Aryeh has toured the world extensively with traditional and contemporary West African dance groups, and has diverse experience as a performer, teacher, choreographer, and movement research scholar throughout West African and the United States. He is currently a Lecturer of Dance at the University of Georgia, Athens. 

Aryeh is the artistic director and founder of Africa Alive Dance Company, a project research-oriented movement performance ensemble, resident in Accra. He was the lead dancer and choreographer for the Performing Arts Workshop, a resident performance dance company affiliated with the University of Ghana. Aryeh also was featured performance soloist and choreographer for the Sankofa African Dance and Drum Company, affiliated with the College at Brockport, State University of New York. He was the director, choreographer, and movement research scholar for the resident theater company at the Center for National Culture, Sunyani, Brong-Ahafo Region, Ghana. 

He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in dance and African studies from the University of Ghana and his Master of Fine Arts degree in performance and choreography studies from College at Brockport, State University of New York. 

Aryeh was awarded the Wilhelmina Boyd Community Service by the Black Student Union for the outstanding contribution to the Black student community and the outstanding Black faculty in recognition of teaching and considerable skill in motivating and inspiring students by the Elon Black Cultural Society presented at the Black Excellence Awards. 

Native American Dance celebrating Indigenous People’s Day with Jessica Moore (all levels)
Oct. 12 from 2-3:30 p.m.

Jessica Moore is a multidisciplinary artist and dance educator who is constantly looking at ways to explore and infuse movement and making it accessible to anyone regardless of their prior knowledge or specialty. Most recently, she worked as adjunct professor at Alfred University teaching contact improvisation and fundamentals of movement and served as guest artist for Happendance in Lansing, Mich.   

Moore earned her Master of Fine Arts degree in dance, performance, and choreography from the College at Brockport, State University of New York, and her Bachelor of Arts degree in dance education from Columbia College in Columbia, S.C. While attending both institutions, she received grants to pursue and further her research regarding Native American dance and culture. She has participated in the Society for Dance History Scholars and Congress On Research in Dance Conference, the National Dance Education Conference, and the South Carolina Dance Association clinic presenting her research, leading seminars, and conducting lectures to educators, scholars, and students. As a member of the Waccamaw Siouan tribe, she continues to compete in pow wows, hone her craft, and spread knowledge of Native American customs, representation, and embodiment across the country.

West African Dance with Tara Murphy (students only)
Oct. 22 from  9:30-10:30 a.m.

Jazz Fusion with Brittany Monachino (all levels)
Oct. 26 from 1:35-2:35 p.m
.

Brittany Monachino recently closed her first Broadway show, King Kong: Alive, on Broadway. She has previously performed in productions of Kiss Me Kate, West Side Story, and Saturday Night Fever. She also has toured with Philadanco and Norwegian Cruise Lines across the Hawaiian Islands, Europe, North Africa, and South America. Monachino received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance with studies completed through State University of New York Purchase and The College at Brockport. She is a former guest teacher for both Astoria School of Dance and The CityDance Dream School in Washington, D.C.  Further performance credits include performances in Hairspray LIVE in Philadelphia, The Washington Ballet, and Dianne McIntyre’s Why I Had to Dance, written by Ntozake Shange.

Jazz Fusion with Brittany Monachino (intermediate level)
Oct.
27 from 2:45-4 p.m.

Dancehall with Alysia Douglas (all levels)
Oct 28 from 1:35-2:35 p.m.

Growing up in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Douglas has always had a profound love of the arts. She first explored this love of dance extensively, and is multi-faceted in many styles, such as tap, jazz, ballet, lyrical, hip-hop, dancehall, and more. Dedicated to her love for dance, she continued her education at The College at Brockport, State University of New York. Upon completing her degree, she moved to New York City where she trained and studied commercial dance at Broadway Dance Center through its Professional Training Semester. This opportunity led her to further expand her skills and work with many industry choreographers, including Ryan Huffington, Dana Foglia, Luam, and Jae Blaze. 

By cultivating such a deeper understanding of the arts, Douglas knew it was time to expand her skills and follow her dreams and move to Los Angeles, where she currently resides. She has been blessed with the opportunity to have been featured on Farfetch Christmas campaign, Keno x H&M fashion show, and the Vogus edition on Millennium Dance Complex, which was focused on women in the commercial industry. She also subs at Millennium Dance Complex teaching under her mentor, Jae Blaze. Douglas is a passionate and driven individual who loves what she does. Her mission is to share her findings with those who wish to grow and enjoy movements of the body. 

Dancehall with Alysia Douglas (intermediate)
Oct. 29 from 2:45-4 p.m.

West African Dance with Jason Aryeh (intermediate)
Nov. 10 from 4:30-6 p.m.

Tutting with Matthew Gibbs (all levels)
Nov. 13 from 1:30-2:45 p.m.

Horton-Ailey with Lakey Evans-Peña
Dec. 2 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and Dec. 3 from 4:30-6 p.m.

Lakey Evans-Peña received her undergraduate degree from the University of the Arts and, after receiving a full scholarship, continued her dance training at The Ailey School. She was invited to apprentice and dance with Ailey II under the direction of Sylvia Waters. During the national tours with Ailey II, she began teaching the Horton technique through the company's many lecture/demonstrations and outreach programming. She has performed in Donald Byrd’s The Harlem Nutcracker in three national tours; in Byrd’s work Carmina Burana for the New York City Opera; and in the works of many dance artists, including Ron Brown, Jacqulyn Buglisi, Milton Myers, Eleo Pomare, Hope Clarke, Kevin “Iega” Jeff, and Vernard Gilmore. Peña served as a group leader for New York City Ailey Camp and as a teaching artist for Ailey Art-in-Education and Community Programming, beginning in 1999. She has served as a guest artist/artist-in-residence at Hollins University, New York University Tisch, Montclair State University, STEPS, Peridance, Ballet Hispanico, and the American Dance Festival where she restaged two of Alvin Ailey’s works, Isba and Escapades. She has been teaching Horton at The Ailey School for more than two decades and has taught in the Junior Division, the Professional Performing Arts School program, and the Professional Division. Peña also has served as a teacher and adjudicator on the national audition tours for the Ailey/Fordham Bachelor of Fine Arts program and the Ailey Summer Intensive for the last 10 years. At her dance studio, the Williamsburg Movement & Arts Center which opened in 2009, she has shared dance with thousands of students in daytime residencies and after-school programming. In 2013, she founded WMAAC Residencies 501c3 (now WRArts), a nonprofit organization providing quality performing arts programming in the Williamsburg/Greenpoint area. She served as the lead teaching artist for the Ailey Dance for Active Senior pilot program conducting two, 10-week residencies in two New York City senior residential living sites. In 2019, Peña assisted Ronni Favors, rehearsal director for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, in the staging of Mr. Ailey’s Memoria, performed by The Ailey School Professional Division students in concert with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for the 2019 City Center season. Currently finishing her Master of Fine Arts degree at Montclair State University, she is conducting research of Lester Horton’s life history and the development of his technique. For her recent thesis concert, she restaged and danced Horton’s 1948 duet, The Beloved, as well as choreographing three new works for the performance.

Latinx dance with David Olarte
November or December TBD

Study Dance At Springfield College
William Simpson Fine Arts Series

Celebrate the arts

The William Simpson Fine Arts Series entertains and inspires. Experience the arts with magnificent work from artists and performers from both inside and outside the Springfield College community. Attendees will be dazzled by dance performances and theater presentations, captivated by art exhibitions and thought-provoking film, and delighted by concerts and literary events.

William Simpson Fall 2019 Program