The Curtain Closes for This Year’s B.F.A. Seniors




On April 27, the seniors of the Fordham/Ailey B.F.A. Dance Program had their final performance as college students. While the Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) community is sad to see them go, the senior dancers make their exit having  grown as individuals and as a class.

“We have a great rapport both onstage and off, which is unusual I think, considering how different we all are as dancers,” Kathleen Dahlhoff, FCLC ’17, said. “I think that our choreographers have really enjoyed working with our group because of this.”

The seniors performed pieces choreographed by Stefanie Batten Bland, Carolyn Dorfman, Jae Man Joo and Christopher Huggins at the senior concert. All four choreographers currently have or have had professional dance careers and have choreographed for professional companies. Batten Bland and Dorfman currently run their own companies, Company SBB and Carolyn Dorfman Dance respectively, and Jae Man Joo and Christopher Huggins have choreographed for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and Ailey II.

“I really enjoyed working with each choreographer, and each gave me a new perspective; a new way to look at movement and grow as an artist,” Julia Horner, FCLC ’17, said.

The rehearsal process with Stephanie Batten Bland impacted Horner the most. “She really allowed us the time to explore the movement and find ourselves within it,” Horner said. “She showed us how to be natural with movement, and figure out its initiation points rather than making things dramatic, over the top or too physical.”

In addition to running her own company, Batten Bland teaches modern partnering and improvisation classes during the year at the Ailey School. In the piece she choreographed for the seniors, she taught the female students the importance of dancing with other women.

“[Learning to dance with other women] is a really important lesson to learn as female dancers in male-dominated spaces,” Horner said. “[Batten Bland] taught us how to partner other women with strength and support, rather than it being surface level or unnatural. She helped me to find what was human about my movement qualities.”

An ongoing issue in the dance world is lack of female choreographers. It is refreshing to have one of the few choreographing for the dancers at Fordham. “It is also so important to see other women in leadership positions,” Horner said. “It gives you someone to aspire to, and to support you.”

Aside from learning valuable lessons from choreographers, the seniors were also simply excited to put on an entire show featuring their class as a whole. “I would say a general favorite memory of mine was just getting to work closely with my classmates,” Dahlhoff said. “A lot of the pieces are group pieces, so we really have bonded as a class, especially since there are so few of us left now.”

During junior year, B.F.A. students have permission to audition for professional dance work so that they have the opportunity to dance professionally during their senior year of college. Some of the class of 2017 spent their senior year performing with Ailey II or the Metropolitan Opera Ballet. Unfortunately, these students were unable to participate in the Senior Concert on Thursday, but did perform professionally-choreographed solos for the Senior Solo Concert on April 25.

For those who are not familiar with the Fordham/Ailey B.F.A. Dance Program, it is a selective program for dancers who wish to continue rigorous dance training while simultaneously pursuing a liberal arts education. During their four years at FCLC, dancers train at the esteemed Ailey School. These students graduate with a B.F.A. in Dance, and many have the opportunity to double-major as well. As the program is extremely selective, the class sizes are relatively small — never exceeding 35 students per year. Many students are often offered professional work coming into their senior year and are therefore unable to participate in the end-of-year Senior Concert. However, by the end of the four years, the seniors as a whole appear to be a well-polished professional company in themselves.

Be sure to congratulate the senior class on their last performance and wish them luck on their future endeavors!