BFA Dancers Pirouette Through the Summer


Jolin Veseau, FCLC ’18, Henry McCall, FCLC ’18, and Jaryd Farcon, FCLC ’20 at Jacob’s Pillow in Massachusettes. (COURTESY OF CHRISTOPHER DUGGAN)


While summer break is typically known for relaxing and recovering from the busy school year, there is no vacation for a dancer, especially for the dance majors at Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC). To maintain and improve their technique, dancers often train over the summer, and even discover some revelations about themselves as students, performers and humans. Below are only some of the diverse summer experiences of the Fordham/Ailey B.F.A. students, who attended programs not just all over the U.S, but the world.

This July, six B.F.A. dancers attended the prestigious Jacob’s Pillow Contemporary Program. Located in Massachusetts, the Pillow only accepts 24 students from around the world to attend their program — our dancers acquired a quarter of these coveted slots. These students had the privilege to work with famous choreographers and teachers like Jae Man Joo and Milton Myers.

Every morning, students would take two technique classes and then have rehearsals for the rest of the day — they were required to learn four pieces of choreography in three weeks. One of these pieces was the world-renowned“D-Man in the Waters (part 1)” by Bill T. Jones.

“You could be thrown into crazy partnering with people that you have known for three days, but you have no option but to try,” Charles Scheland, FCLC ’20, said. “And in that ‘sink-or-swim’ mentality, I found myself growing a lot as a dancer, artist and partner.”

Additionally, these students were exposed to the rich, historical dance atmosphere at the Pillow, spending their evenings attending live dance performances or watching recorded dance videos.

“Being able to study in an environment that is so immersive and completely dedicated to the past, present and future of dance is a humbling honor,” Scheland said.

Ashley Simpson, FCLC ’20, attended the BalletX Summer Intensive in Philadelphia in addition to the Jacob’s Pillow Contemporary Program. “I feel so much better about the competitive aspect of the dance world,” Simpson said. “It really is just knowing that you are on the right page and trusting in your talent and individuality.”

Heading west, Morgan Coyle-Howard, FCLC ’19, attended The Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Summer Intensive. She described the intensive as “an unexpected hug from a stranger.” Originally viewing the intensive as an opportunity to train before the Arts Umbrella Summer Intensive she was planning to attend in Vancouver later on in the summer, Coyle-Howard fell “in love with the welcoming faculty and staff, the various technique classes and repertories, and the feeling of home.”

“I think the summer is the time to branch out and discover new communities of the dance world – or just the world,” Coyle Howard continued. “As humans [and] especially artists, we are constantly trying to enrich our lives and touch as many textures life has to offer.”

Many rising seniors from the Fordham/Ailey B.F.A. Program had the distinct honor to rehearse as apprentices with Ailey II, the second company of the celebrated Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre.

“The Ailey Company has always been a dream of mine since I first started dancing 10 years ago,” Amarachi Korie, FCLC ’18, said. “Being given the opportunity to apprentice with Ailey II has been more than an honor.”

Ailey II apprentices are responsible for understudying every piece that Ailey II will be performing this year. If a company member were to become sick or injured, the apprentice would thus perform that person’s role for the night. This means that these apprentices could be learning several roles within the same piece.

“The first week was very overwhelming mentally,” Marcel Wilson, FCLC ’18, said. “But once you get used to it and develop skills for retaining information, the process is very fun and rewarding.”

Amongst the demanding responsibility of rehearsing as an apprentice, Korie is coming back from a knee injury. Instead of allowing her knee to inhibit her, she is discovering new and effective ways of moving.

“I am learning to really listen to my body because I only have onesion and inspiration,” Korie said. Wilson’s favorite piece thus far is Bridget Moore’s “Sketches of Flames.” “It really challenged me in the sense of truly being aware of what’s going on around myself. I love how much you have to rely on the group and really feel each other’s energy in order to do the choreography justice. It’s also just a very fun and energetic piece in itself! The party section is always fun to do with the other apprentices!”

Meanwhile, overseas in the Netherlands, Sarah Takash, FCLC ’20, attended the Nedelands Dans Theater (NDT) in Den Haang. Training and rehearsing in the studios for over nine hours a day, Takash had the opportunity to perform a solo coached by a former NDT company member.

“The biggest challenge was physical because [I was] experimenting with new movements that were foreign to my body,” Takash said.

One out of only 19 students in her class, Takash not only received personal attention, but she was also exposed to dancers from all over the world.

“I think in the whole program of 60 dancers, something like 14 countries were represented. It was absolutely amazing to be immersed in an environment like that, and it’s something I don’t think I could find anywhere else.”

Takash continued her training in Zurich, Switzerland where she danced for two weeks in the Art of Ballet program.

Eleanor Frechette, FCLC ’19, along with many other dance majors, conversely approached her dance growth this summer from a teaching aspect, traveling  to San Francisco and Guatemala for outreach programs with JUNTOS. These students taught dance workshops and performed in various underserved communities, safe houses and orphanages.

“This summer I realized the importance of dance for our world, and how essential human connection really is,” Frechette said.

While the summer provides students with amazing opportunities to expose themselves to unique and unfamiliar surroundings, the summer also allows many dance majors a solid recovery period for preexisting injuries.

Due to a minor surgery from June, Kathy Liu, FCLC ’19, spent most of her summer working at FCLC’s Office for Student Involvement as an Orientation Coordinator (OC). She, along with two other OCs, planned and organized all of the summer and fall orientation events for the Class of 2021.“I really enjoyed becoming a part of Fordham’s student leadership community while also giving my body a chance to rest and recover for the Fall Semester!” Liu said.

Isabel Wallace-Green, FCLC ’19, spent her summer at the Ailey School’s Summer Intensive, recuperating from her reconstructive knee surgery performed last November. After tearing both her ACL and meniscus, Wallace-Green was unable to dance spring semester of 2017.

“It was total bliss to come back to the studios and regain strength and confidence in my dancing,” Wallace-Green said. “I ended the six weeks feeling grateful, remembering how lucky I am to pursue my dream while surrounded by beautifully inspiring artists.”