FloArts presents Dance Choreography Gala

From left are Amaani Grant, Katrin Silvis, Paige Lane, Fredrick Harris, Mitchel Burns, Katie Garrepy and Rowan Maris
From left are Paige Lane, Katrin Silvis and Katie Garrepy.

The Dance Choreography Gala, filled with collaborative dance artistry, will be coming to the Florida School of the Arts located on the Palatka campus of St. Johns River State College on Friday, November 16 and Saturday, November 17 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, November 18 at 2:30 p.m. Contemporary dance techniques and the diversity of styles within that genre will be performed within a minimal set design featuring multiple doorways and traveling archways, along with moveable lanterns and exquisite stage lighting. Admission is $5.

Director Mary Love Ward said there’s definitely something for everyone in this diverse dance Gala. “Faculty, guests and student choreography are linked together in this concert through the concept of journeys: physical, emotional and temporal journeys,” she explained. “With a malleable set design and exquisite lighting, the audience is going to be transported with the performers through various emotional and physical terrains.”

The performance of student works is always a special treat at each Dance Choreography Gala. Select student choreographers performed their contemporary dances for a committee of SJR State faculty and staff and were invited to showcase their choreography at the Gala. Selections include Katie Garrepy’s “Give it Time,” a tap duet, as well as her group contemporary dance, “The Hallows.” Garrepy and Katrin Silvis collaboratively choreographed “Far From _____,” while Silvis also choreographed “Unravelling Progress,” an ensemble dance. The ensemble “Up and Away” was choreographed by Hayley Smith, and “Farewell” was choreographed by Torie D’Alessandro.

“The students gain important opportunities to learn about the choreographic design process if they choose to submit a dance,” Ward explained. “They receive mentoring and coaching, and if they are selected, they work alongside the director in implementing lighting, set and costume design elements into their dance. Serving as student choreographers also gives the students a unique opportunity for leadership among their peers.”

The works of guest artists and faculty choreographers will also be featured. Returning for a third season is the Jacksonville-based company, Three Hearts Dance, bringing two world premier dance films to the stage, “To Be” and “Sole Searching,” a collaborative project with FloArts students during a three-day residency. Ward noted that Three Hearts Dance focuses on sending positive messages to the community with relevant dance works and dance films, which are featured on the Three Hearts Dance YouTube channel.

About the experience the students gain working with guest artists, Ward said, “This is an important opportunity for our students to make career connections and experience a taste of being a professional dancer. When the students work under choreographers and directors who come in without knowing them, and hold them to professional expectations, it liberates the dancers from just being ‘students,’ and they really get to shine as true artists. We are very proud that our students have these opportunities and take them seriously as part of their artistic process of personal growth,” said Ward.

Four dances choreographed by faculty will also grace the stage during the Gala. Opening the show is “Dawn,” a contemporary ballet work choreographed by co-director Jessica Mayhew Borrero and Ward. According to Ward, “’Dance’ is a reflection of the beauty of our lives and the ephemeral nature of relationships and life. This dance honors the joy of life’s journey and notes the quick nature of life’s passing, taking the view that life is similar to the passing of a single day. It begins, develops as we work and then it comes to its conclusion,” Ward explained.

Taking a more physical approach, Professor Herman Ramos uses “Waves” to explore physical waves, tides and the pull of life’s relationships. Ramos also collaborated with a guest artist to create “Doll House,” a dance film. “The film explores what it’s like to be left out of life and unable to profess,” said Ward.

Resident tap artist Jenne Vermes choreographed “Glass,” a dance based on the concept of confinement and freedom, physically and psychologically.

“Journey,” a dance restaged by Ward, expresses the pain and sweetness found in the anticipation of life’s journey. Originally premiered with her professional company, Mary Love Dance Projects, “Journey” deals with the time between the journey, as well as the waiting and decision-making that happens when we are between two places in life.

Faculty, guests and students have connected on many levels to create a wide range of dance diversity. And it is this collaborative nature of the Gala that Ward believes beautifully celebrates the art of movement and theater, so come celebrate!

The dance artists include Alberto Blanco, Mitchel Burns, Logen Cheatham, Jahleel Christian, Emely Cuestas, D’Alessandro, Kevin Figueroa, Garrepy, Amaani Grant, Fredrick Harris, Alantae Jackson, Paige Lane, Ashley Leake, Rowan Maris, Noah Peacock, Silvas, Hayley Smith and Mark Wildman.

The production crew consists of Directors Borrero and Ward; Text Designer and Director Patricia Crotty; Costume Designer Danielle Brownfield; Stage Manager Alysa Ness; Assistant Stage Manager Kati Blankenship; Faculty Costume Supervisor Emily Schafer; Faculty Scene Design Supervisor Mark Exline; Lighting Faculty

Supervisors Tiffany Jordan and Chandler Caroccio; Transitional Lighting Designer Brittany Posso; Costume Shop Manager Jordan; Scene Shop Manager Caroccio; Production Assistants Jadon Beck, Sophia Delgado and M.J. McBride; Light Board Operator Facia Lee; Sound Board Operator Savanna Flathmann; Carpenters, Scenic Painters, and Electricians: Katrina Babitzke, Neal Baker, Chad Boyd, Flathmann, Rebekah Herskovitz, Melissa Moore, Elijah Richardson-Grant, Kirsten Rude and Samuel Williams IV; Costume Construction Crew: Blankenship, Brownfield, Crystal Cruz, Danielle DuBois, Tatiyana Firth, Loudise Hernandez-Ortiz, Hannah Johnson, Timothy Lake, Marissa Mendez, Jeff Parmenter, Melanie Rodriguez and Vincent Ward.

The FloArts chapter of Delta Psi Omega (a national theatre honor society) will collect non-perishable, nutritious foods at each performance. Donations will assist the Feed the Need of Putnam County program. Suggested food items are ones that can be easily prepared by young children. A donation box will be located in the lobby for the duration of the production.

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 are preparing to take patrons on a physical, emotional and temporal journey with the annual Dance Choreography Gala, presented November 16 – 18. From left are Amaani Grant, Katrin Silvis, Paige Lane, Fredrick Harris, Mitchel Burns, Katie Garrepy and Rowan Maris.

From left are Paige Lane, Katrin Silvis and Katie Garrepy.



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