UCR Students Perform at the American College Dance Association Conference

Four will go on to the national festival in Washington, D.C. in June

Charlene Chang, Cory Nyirenda, Amariah Wosczyk, Melissa Urban, Kevin Wong rehearsing at the American College Dance Association’s 2016 regional conference.

Four UCR graduate students who attended the the American College Dance Association (ACDA) regional conference in March were chosen to perform an original choreographed piece at the  National College Dance Festival, to be held on June 8 to 11 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. 

Maggie Sniffen, Alfonso Cervera, Hyoin Jun and Irvin Gonzalez from the UCR Department of Dance presented as a quartet at the American College Dance Association (ACDA) regional conference held at California State University, Los Angeles in March. The foursome choreographed a piece titled “fourtold,” for ACDA. 

More than 30 schools participated in the Baja Region conference this year, and UCR was one of three invited to the National College Dance Festival. UCR’s “fourtold” was one of three dances selected out of 48 performed to represent the Baja Region.

Sniffen also taught two master classes, “Broadway Fosse Fusion” and “Performance Improvisation.” Cervera was the instructor for the “Advanced Contemporary Modern Fused with Ballet Folklorico” master class.

Aside from the four grad students, 10 undergraduates from the Department of Dance also attended the ACDA regional conference, in the second year that UCR participated in the annual conference. These were Cory Nyirenda, Charlene Chang, Kevin Wong, Amariah Wosczyk, Krista Palmer, William Feldon, Elizabeth Villalobos, Luke Portillo, Steven Romero and Melissan Urban. 

Students Elizabeth Villalobos and Luke Portillo

Students Elizabeth Villalobos and Luke Portillo

Throughout the four days, students attended master classes and workshops taught by faculty, guest artists and graduate students. Each participating school also brought original choreography to showcase in the informal concert series in the daytime or the adjudicated concerts at night. The conference was held from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. The program gave students a chance to learn and perform original choreography with peers who shared the same interest in dance.

UCR brought two undergraduate pieces of choreography, which were presented in ACDA’s Informal Concert Series. “Desolate,” choreographed by Portillo and Villalobos was selected to be performed again on the final day in a showcase; it was one of four pieces selected out of 35 presentations.

Joel Smith, associate professor of choreography, coordinated and chaperoned the entire trip. “When I was hired, I expressed an interest to share this opportunity with our students as a way to get them outside of their own culture in Riverside and to experience other faculty, guest artists and students from colleges across the Southern California landscape,” Smith said.

He views UCR’s involvement with ACDA as a way to introduce community college students to the campus. “Students from various schools in and around Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange Counties are able to learn about UCR and our dance department,” Smith explained. “Our hope is that our students participation in the event, including in classes and on stage, will attractive ACDA participants enough to want to transfer to our school.”

ACDA’s primary focus is to support and promote the wealth of talent and creativity that is prominent throughout college and university dance departments. The conferences provide the unique opportunity for students and faculty to have their dance works adjudicated by a panel of nationally recognized dance professionals in an open and constructive forum. ACDA separates the conferences into 12 different regions across the country. UCR is categorized under the Baja region, which stretches from Bakersfield all the way to San Diego. More than 30 colleges attended this year’s conference.

“Overall, we had a really positive experience attending the conference,” said Smith. “Seeing our students enjoy themselves and support one another, and demonstrate a great deal of maturity and professionalism, I can’t help but feel proud of them.”


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