News & Updates

Spring Dance Concert 2015


April 9, 10, 11, 2015
Montgomery Performance Space
7:00 pm

The Allegheny College Dance & Movement Studies Program will present its annual Spring Dance Concert in the Montgomery Performance Space at 7:00 pm on April 9, 10, and 11, 2015.  This year’s concert will be an eclectic mix of genres, including Betsy Sumerfield’s advanced Ballroom students performing four short dances that progress from Speed Dating to The Proposal, The Wedding, and ending in Celebration.

Sumerfield also offers a new piece based on childhood experiences of education in the era of No Child Left Behind.  Four musicians join John Hyatt to perform original music live for this work, Sumerfield’s Nen Iuvenis.

James Reedy will present an expanded version of a solo choreographed last year for student Kassandra Krason.  This year other performers will join Kassandra to create more images of Crossing.  Live music will accompany the piece this year.

Eleanor Weisman and guest artist Jay Hanes will perform a duet inspired by John Dewey’s themes of the aesthetic process.  Their piece Compress, Impulse, Express includes Hanes on the cornet and the creation of visual documentation of their work during the performance.   Weisman also worked with ten students to create the piece Earth Potential that incorporates unique body sock costumes that create strange shapes on stage.  Earth Potential presents a look at underground activity of a newly discovered protein glomalin that helps to sequester carbon in the soil.

Other dances in the concert include a solo by recent Allegheny graduate Angela Adusah and a performance by Gretchen Myers Ballet class.  The Spring Concert is free and open to the public, but reservations are recommended.  Call the DMS office at 814-332-2813 for more information or to make a reservation.

Photo by Matt Rick

Psyched to Dance

Alumnus Discovers Unknown Passion at Allegheny

It was 2007 – the first semester of Carlos Blandino-Lopez’s freshman year.

Thinking that he someday wanted to be a doctor, he walked into the David V. Wise Sport & Fitness Center preparing to register only for neuroscience classes.

At that time, the course registration process “was like a school fair,” Blandino-Lopez says, with students walking from table to table learning about the different classes available.

That’s when Tom Erdos, a former dance and movement studies faculty member, motioned Blandino-Lopez over to his table. He said he needed more men in his ballroom class.

“I thought sure, why not?” Blandino-Lopez says as he jotted down his name on the Introduction to Ballroom roster.

Unbeknownst to him, the moment changed his life.

“We learned the six major dances in that course, and I found out that I had a knack for dance,” says Blandino-Lopez, who originally is from Anchorage, Alaska, but now lives in Pittsburgh. “I was hooked.”

A (Dance) Step in the Right Direction
With his new passion ignited, Blandino-Lopez filled his schedule with dance classes each semester at Allegheny. During his collegiate career, he also completed independent studies focusing on dance, worked as a teacher’s assistant for ballroom classes, and choreographed performances for the College and community.

In addition, Blandino-Lopez worked with other classmates to produce a surprise performance for Professor Erdos. “The entire production was student-run. We worked on it for a full semester,” he says. “We performed 16 pieces with all different types of dance. Professor Erdos had no idea.”

Blandino-Lopez’s love for dance continued to grow – and he began thinking about how he could continue his passion after graduation. That’s when a coach from Arthur Murray Dance Centers in Miami visited his class.

“She took me aside and told me I could do this as a career,” says Blandino-Lopez, who also was involved in the Bonner program, the Association of Black Collegians/Association for the Advancement of Black Culture, Union Latina, and Orchesis at Allegheny. “That really piqued my interest.”

The following year, the Allegheny senior found himself traveling to Pittsburgh for a job interview with Arthur Murray Dance Centers. Shortly after, he landed a position there as a dance instructor – a job he still enjoys today.

“As a teacher, I love seeing how confidence builds in people,” he says. “Even in college, there were people in my classes who were awkward and really didn’t interact with others. Then they would dance and develop confidence. My passion for dance is fueled by the excitement of seeing people learn.”

Story through Dance
One of the best parts about teaching, Blandino-Lopez says, is being a part of people’s stories. He cites one of his students, an 88-year-old man named Howard, as an example.

“Howard has Alzheimer’s, and the studio is the only place where he gets a sense of normalcy,” he says. “He’s deteriorating in every other aspect of his life, but on some level, he’s progressing here.”

Another student, 74-year-old Judy, was a teacher at Arthur Murray when she was 18.

“It’s so great to talk with her about how things have changed,” he says. “She met her husband through dancing, and now she does it for her own self-confidence and exercise. She told me this is her reason for getting dressed up and leaving the house.

“Over the years, I’ve learned that very few people come here to learn to dance,” he continues. “They come here for something deeper.”

Dance also has affected Blandino-Lopez’s personal life. He met his wife, Elizabeth, while salsa dancing.

“I asked her to dance and she said no,” he says. “Luckily I had the confidence to eventually get her to say yes.”

Although dance was a major focus for Blandino-Lopez at Allegheny – even becoming his minor during his senior year – he continued studying neuroscience, graduating in 2011 with a double major in neuroscience and psychology. He believes this foundation is still applicable to his current profession.

“I’ve always been fascinated with the brain. The reason I came to Allegheny was because I knew it was one of the best in the country for neuroscience,” he says. “It’s really helped me now because I understand the physiological process of how learning works. As a teacher, that foundation helps me to have more patience and understanding with my students.”

Eventually, Blandino-Lopez would like to revisit the connections among neuroscience, psychology, and ballroom dance.

“My senior comp was on ballroom dance and psychological androgyny. I’d like to do more research around ballroom dancing in general,” he says. “A study I read said dancing frequently can reduce your risk for dementia by 76 percent. I’d like to dig into that someday.”

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Uniforms-into-paper process both creative, therapeutic

Combat Paper Project


When Nathan Lewis came back from Iraq in 2004, he noticed things were different for him.
“You go to war, (and) you come back changed,” Lewis said.

Lewis didn’t let the change overcome him in a negative way. While he was a student at State University of New York at Potsdam, he became involved with the Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), an advocacy group of active-duty U.S. military personnel, Iraq War veterans, Afghanistan War veterans and other veterans who have served since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks who were opposed to U.S. military in Iraq from 2003-11. On the weekends, the group came together and cut up uniforms to turn into paper for artwork and writing projects. It became a therapeutic outlet for Lewis and his group.

This week, Lewis has shared the paper making process with Allegheny College students as part of Combat Paper: Words Made Flesh. This week-long program is geared toward veterans issues, including art, dance, lectures and panels on a broad number of subjects such as psychology, returning home and military/civilian divide.

The combat paper making process may sound complex and timely, but it is for the most part unchanged since the paper making process began in China in 105 A.D.

Uniforms are cut into postage stamp-sized pieces, then moved into a beater. The beater is a trough filled with water which will turn the cloth pieces into pulp. The only change to the original process since 105 A.D. is Lewis has added a small electric motor to the beater.

The pulp is then moved to a tray, where a frame is dipped into it and sifted, similar to panning for gold. Once a layer of the pulp is gathered, the frame is removed, the water is drained and the paper is pulled off into a sheet onto a press. Once pressed, the sheet of paper is stuck to glass to dry into a sheet of usable paper.

Once the paper is dry, veterans, Allegheny College students and members of the community draw pictures, write poems or provide other artistic endeavors on the recycled uniforms. Lewis said paper making has been picked up as a therapeutic tool by military hospitals and the United Service Organization, a nonprofit organization also known as USO that provides programs, services and live entertainment to U.S. troops and their families.

“It helps vets to tell their story,” Lewis said. “They go through this intense experience (war), and it helps to listen.

“We’re not trained psychologists, we’re just guys who make paper.”

The paper making process ended Thursday, but veterans and community members are invited to design artwork today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Bowman-Penelec-Megahan Art Gallery inside the college’s Campus Center.

Allegheny College art professor Steve Prince was instrumental in bringing Lewis to campus for the week. Prince called Drew Cameron in California, director of the national Combat Paper Project, to schedule a workshop, and in turn was put in touch with Lewis, who is one of the project’s paper makers on the East Coast.

Prince said the week is an interdisciplinary approach with the art, dance and panels. The big question Prince had about veterans when planning the week was, “How do they get reintegrated back into society and how can we help with the process?”

A gallery of combat paper artwork begins on display Saturday through Oct. 28 at the Bowman-Penelec-Megahan Art Gallery. At the gallery opening on Saturday at 5 p.m. at center, there will also be performances by dance and movement studies students, and vocal and music students.

Prince said combat paper was sent to 26 renowned artists with a request to contribute artwork for the gallery. The pieces will be displayed prominently along with pieces done this week by students and community members.

Allegheny College senior Sam Stephenson is an English major from Portland, Ore., who plans to enter the Marine Corps as an officer following graduation. Stephenson was at the workshop as a member of one of Cheryl Hatch’s journalism classes. Stephenson said he could see where the combat paper would be useful to veterans in the healing process.

“(They are taking) a tool of the military and bridge that gap between military and civilian and make art,” Stephenson said.

“I like the way they’re taking something military and turning it from memorabilia and making something productive,” said sophomore Meghan Wilby, another member of one of Hatch’s classes, who is also participating in the workshop.

Colorado’s Kali Albern, an Allegheny art student, said she has made paper before but never from uniforms. But she enjoys the concept.

“Although it has symbology, because we don’t know what it will be used for, it has its original purpose and can now be used for beauty,” Albern said.

Though Lewis said he has gotten as much therapeutic benefits from making combat paper as he possibly could, he enjoys sharing the experience with students and other veterans and performs four workshops per year.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research