Gustavus Dance Program Recognized at ACDA Conference

Posted on April 26th, 2022 by

"Then. Soon. Now. (a dance I found)," choreographed by Sarah Hauss and performed by Amanda Hoffman '22 (pictured) was selected for the ACDA midwest conference gala performance, along with Tessa Longshore '22's "I'm Sorry You Feel That Way: Gaslight Gatekeep Girlboss." Photo by Lauren Mayer for the spring dance concert

Over spring break, dancers from Gustavus, along with college dancers from across the Midwest gathered to participate in the American College Dance Association’s regional conference at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. With 36 pieces from different colleges presented for adjudication, eleven were chosen for the gala performance. Both of Gustavus’s submitted pieces were selected, which is a big honor for the program. 

“When I say that the Gustavus dance program is recognized beyond the midwest, I am not exaggerating,” said co-chair of the theatre & dance department, Michele Rusinko.

I’m Sorry You Feel That Way: Gaslight, Gatekeep, Girlboss, choreographed by Tessa Longshore ’22, is a duet that explores the manipulation faced by both individuals in a toxic relationship. Performed by Longshore and Karmen Peter ’23, the piece is inspired by lived experience. Longshore, a dance honors major, said the honor is validating both for her as an artist and for the experience that the dance is inspired by. “I enjoy exploring my movement vocabulary, as well as the vocabulary of the dancers I work with. We all have different bodies and movement experiences, it is a gift to see it all happen together,” she said.

Then. Soon. Now. (a dance I found), choreographed by Sarah Hauss and performed by Amanda Hoffman ’22, was also selected for the gala. Also featured in the spring dance concert, To Love the World Harder: The Gustavus Dance Company in Concert, this piece is a response to the “found art” movement. The piece stemmed from found dance phrases residing in Hauss’s kinesthetic memory over her choreographic career spanning the last 30 plus years.

Each school is only allowed to present two pieces, and there is no distinction between large and small schools. Only one of the two pieces can be choreographed by either a faculty member or guest artist. While Gustavus has had pieces selected for the gala in the past, having both selected is a big recognition for the program. “This is extremely unusual and a huge accomplishment,” says Rusinko.

The conference consists of three days of workshops, performances, panels, and master classes culminating in the gala performance. “I was reminded why I love dance and why I chose to continue dancing throughout college,” said Peter. “I definitely found a new respect for choreographers and a renewal of love for dance,” she said.

In addition to the two pieces presented for formal adjudication, Mary Juelich ’24 also presented a solo for informal feedback, and in a relatively new component for the conference, Gustavus presented a screen dance choreographed by Lillian Kline ’22. 

Gustavus has a long history of excellence at the ACDA regional conference. The organization started in 1971, and Gustavus dancers have been attending since around 1990. The goal of the conference is to recognize and encourage excellence in performance and choreography in higher education.

For more information on the Gustavus dance program, please visit the Department of Theatre & Dance website.


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