FloArts presents Dance Choreography Gala

male dancer on stage
female dancer on stage

Celebrating the collaborative artistic process and showcasing a diverse collection of choreography, the Dance Choreography Gala will be coming to the Florida School of the Arts Main Stage, located on the Palatka campus of St. Johns River State College, November 17 - 18 at 7:30 p.m. and November 19 at 2:30 p.m. Admission is $5.

According to Director Mary Love Ward, “This concert has a contemporary emphasis and explores topics that are impacting our world now. Many of the choreographers for this concert were particularly interested in how technology and the current political climate are affecting our culture.”

Highlighting contemporary dance techniques, Ward said, “The Gala showcases the expressiveness of the vast umbrella of what is defined as contemporary dance. One of the exciting features of the process for this concert includes an adjudication of student works.” Ward explained that student choreographers submitted dances to be performed for a committee of SJR State faculty and staff. A select number of the students were then invited to present their choreographed dances for the concert.

“We feel it is vital for students to have the opportunity to choreograph and go through a selection process to gain valuable opportunities to develop their creative process, collaboration skills, and leadership,” Ward explained.

The concert will also include choreography from guest artists, including dances commissioned specifically for FloArts dance majors by guest artist Phil Anchetta and Three Hearts Dance.

Anchetta currently performs in the “Rivers of Light” show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. He has also appeared in various advertising campaigns for Walt Disney World and has performed as a dancer and aerialist for the Royal Caribbean cruise line. Ward said that “Listening to No One” by Anchetta is “a dance reaction to the overwhelming sensation that comes through constant news media and the feeling of unrest created by negative stories in the media. His choreography is powerful and aggressive as the dancers come together to comfort each other as a result of being angered by the injustices of today.”

Three Hearts Dance, a professional dance company based in Jacksonville, is a returning guest. Director Lexi Bristol and Will Darden, founder of Eriden Images, have collaborated with FloArts students to create two dance films to be presented during the Gala. The films feature current students as well as alumni. Set on location, the dance films feature many areas of interest in downtown Palatka and Jacksonville.

“These films explore the impact of technology on our culture and have given the students the unique opportunity to be involved in the process of creating a dance film,” said Ward. “Students gain a lot of important professional experience by getting to work with guest artists. This is an important education and career bridge that helps our dancers make steps and prepare to enter the workforce,” said Ward adding, “The intensive nature of the rehearsal process is also a great opportunity for students to learn to adapt quickly, much as would be expected of them in a professional performing ensemble.”

Three dances choreographed by faculty will also be part of the Gala. “Set-Reset,” a contemporary dance by Ward, was inspired by the events of recent social justice movements and protests. “So much of what has been featured in the news provides a psychological study of shifting relationship dynamics, such as crowd mentalities and individual connectedness,” she stated. “’Set-Reset’ moves through expressing these relationship dynamics in physical form.”

Herman Ramos, who recently joined the FloArts dance faculty, has created “Tangent,” a new contemporary work that includes many gestural phrases as an extension of interpersonal communication. And Jenne Vermes, resident tap instructor, has created “Visual Sound, Audible Movement,” a dance that unifies contemporary dance technique and tap, reflecting the need to come together in our divisive times.

Alongside the professional choreography selections are five student dances. “We are the Light,” choreographed by Matthew Wilson, is a hip-hop dance celebrating joy in our world. “Beauty Marks and Battle Scars,” by Katie Garrepy, is a dance that illustrates the pressure to conform to an ideal image in today's media. “Cavity,” by Amaani Grant, is a duet exploring rejection and acceptance. “Asylum,” by Robert Allen, is a dance taking place in a mental health ward, and “Speak,” choreographed by Yasmin Rohena, is a dance reacting to how our devices and phones affect our relationships.

Audience members will also enjoy the artistic creations of the costuming and lighting design that bring each dance to life. “The student designers are also an integral component to the production,” said Ward. “There is sure to be something for all artistic tastes in the show.”
The dancers are: Robert Allen, Ursula Allen-Darring, Cameron Bartelt, Alberto Blanco, Mitchel Burns, Yul Carrion, Jid Charles, Jahleel Christian, Kacey Clark, Jamie Costner, Torie D'Alessandro, Markeith Douse, Krishelle Edwards, Kevin Figueroa, Garrepy, Grant, Fredrick Harris, Abigail Hinson, Ashley Leake, Jessica McCumber, Ashley Mercado, Dion Pratt, Libby Rodriguez, Rohena, Justin Savage, Katrin Silvis, Gemma Smith, Katrina Smith, Maycee Smith, Mark Wildman and Wilson.

The production staff includes: Costume design - Sarah Cox; lighting design - 2017 lighting design class; sound design and engineer - Braden Harrington; stage manager - Kaylee Dowd; assistant to the lighting designers - Andrew Stevens;  faculty costume supervisor - Emily Strickland;  faculty design supervisor and technical director- Robert O’Leary; costume shop manager - Tiffany Jordan; assistant stage managers - Maria Clark and Brandy Ramos; production assistants - Rodriguez and Smith; light board operator - Andrew Stevens; sound board operators - John Robinson III and Tricia Williams; costume construction crew - Robert Allen, Kiersten Bartholomew, Danielle Brownfield, Anastasia Costas, Marcus Donaldson, Brandon French, Allyson Futch, Martin Hamilton, Jasmine Saumat, Carine St. Juste; carpenters, scenic painters and electricians - Katrina Babitske, Burns, Matthew Campbell, Figueroa, Anna Guzman, Harrington, Noah Peacock, Brittany Posso, Madison Protonotarious, Robinson III, Hayley Smith, Andrew Stevens, Christopher Toombs and Williams.

Florida School of the Arts is part of the academic and administrative structure of SJR State and awards the two-year associate degree. The School serves the entire state of Florida and is located on the SJR State Palatka campus. For more information, call 386-312-4300 or visit the website at


Florida School of the Arts students Katrin Silvis and Fredrick Harris rehearse for the Dance Choreography Gala



Susan Kessler
Director of Public Relations and Publications
(386) 312-4020