Dominguez Hills Dance Students Perform at American College Dance Festival
Five students from the Department of Theatre and Dance at California State University, Dominguez Hills performed at the 2009 American College Dance Festival Association’s (ACDFA) South-Central Conference, held at Texas A&M University in College Station, Tx., March 11-14. Doris Ressl, assistant professor and coordinator of the dance program, received a $4,500 Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities Program (RSCAAP) grant to choreograph one work and to cover the students’ travel expenses.
“The focus of this festival was adjudication feedback,” says Ressl. “The [students] received feedback from professional choreographers in modern dance and ballet, which is constructive and positive encouragement to those entering the professional field of dance.”
Seniors Lynnea Brown, Maggie Hawkins, and Michael Nickerson-Rossi, and juniors Ashlie Borowski and Nathan Ortiz attended the four-day conference with Ressl. The students performed “Holding Space,” a work choreographed by Nickerson-Rossi and performed by him and Brown. Ressl represented the faculty by choreographing a work for the five student dancers titled “Unseen Force.” The dancers also attended master classes and adjudicated performances while at the conference.
“I have always known that I've wanted to make dance a profession for myself because when I can't dance due to injury or illness, I feel as though a big part of me is missing,” says Borowski. “The American College Dance Festival is a place where you can see what many professionals in the field did and are doing with their careers and by [their] example, it shows you the potential paths you can take with your life as a dancer.”
“Our students’ good training and professionalism was noticed by other schools in the master classes and in the performances,” Ressl notes. “One of the greatest compliments we received from a dance faculty at Northwestern State in Louisiana was that he thought our students were graduate students since they performed so professionally.”
The dance program at CSU Dominguez Hills officially became a major in the fall 2008 semester. Students can now receive a bachelor’s degree in theater arts with a concentration in dance. Hawkins, a senior, says she has seen the program come a long way, expanding from basic ballet and jazz to include modern dance, hip hop, and ethnic dance. Ortiz, a physical education major and a veteran of color guard performance, says that his experience in the dance program has been “extremely beneficial. I think after just one term, I’ve [surpassed] my entire experience before coming here.”
Ressl says that this is the first year that CSU Dominguez Hills students were able to attend an ACDF event as performers.
“This has been a great group to work with,” she says. “There was no other competition to follow — this was it — and we presented ourselves in a positive light.”
Borowski feels that experiences like attending the ACDF conference enhance dance education at CSU Dominguez Hills in a way that manifests itself in students’ performance.
“There is some really inspiring talent among our group of dancers,” says Borowski. “The hard work and togetherness of our group brought the performance to a really great level that I believe was enjoyable to watch. Attending ACDF and spending so much time together really [helped] us to learn a lot about each other and brought our group to a new level of performance chemistry.”
- Joanie Harmon
Photos above: (L-R) Nathan Ortiz, Michael Nickerson-Rossi, and Lynnea Brown rehearse for their performance at the regional conference of the American College Dance Festival Association
Doris Ressl's students are the first group from CSU Dominguez Hills to attend the American College Dance Festival Association's conference and present adjudicated performances. L-R: Maggie Hawkins, Michael Nickerson-Rossi, Ashlie Borowski, Nathan Ortiz and Lynnea Brown
Photos by Joanie Harmon