Collaborative Night of Diverse Performances by Wellesley Students

February 22, 2013

Thanks to the diversity of its student body, Wellesley College has a wide variety of dance organizations, many of which feature cross-cultural traditions and choreography. 

Wellesley’s first Festival of Dance takes places on February 23, with workshops and a collaborative night of performance by a dozen Wellesley dance organizations and several Wellesley musical orgs. The festival is the brainchild of Nora Mishanec ’14. When she came to Wellesley as a transfer student, she was impressed by the quantity and quality of dance at Wellesley, and amazed that there was not a festival already in place. She decided to do something about it. 

At her former school, Monroe Community College in Rochester, N.Y., a very dedicated dance instructor—Shannon McClatchy, formerly of Ballet Arizona—organized a show every semester. “That was the model I used for Wellesley's dance festival,” said Mishanec, a varsity field hockey player who studied ballet in her younger years and remains a devoted fan of dance. She formed an organizing committee with Mary Kenefake ’13, Carolyn Thayer ’14, and Mayrah Udvardi ’14. “Our aim,” said Mishanec, “is to promote greater collaboration among student orgs and to celebrate the many different kinds of dance practiced on this campus.” This is exemplified by the range of performance groups that will be participating: ascenDance, Ballroom, Belly Dance Society, Cielito Lindo, FreeStyle, Hui O Hawaii, Wushu, and Yanvalou, to name a few.

Festival of Dance Agenda

Keohane Sports Center, 2nd Floor Dance Studios
12:30-2 p.m. Afro Jazz workshop, led by Marianne Harkless
12:30-2 p.m. Irish Jig workshop, led by Abbie MacQuarrie
2:30-3:30 p.m. Salsa workshop, led by Kelly Silfies and Johnny Giraldo

Jewett Auditorium
4-4:30 p.m. Reception in Jewett foyer; dance orgs to promote upcoming shows, cupcakes and drinks to be served
4:30-6 p.m. Performance by Wellesley's dance orgs

Workshop Instructor Bios

Marianne Harkless
Marianne Harkless has been a dancer, dance instructor and choreographer for thirty years. She performed with Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre, The Art of Black Dance & Music, Dance Collective, Danny Sloan Dance Company, Brasiliero, Inc, Impulse Dance Company, La Pintade, Bandanca Afro-Brazilian Dancers & Drummers, African Cultural Exposure and Expansions Dance Company. Marianne has taught and performed nationally and internationally at dance festivals, studios, schools and universities, including the Harvard/Radcliffe Dance Program, Dean College School of Dance, Boston Conservatory, and Boston University.

Marianne has taught workshops in Paris and Avignon, France, Chiasso, and Bern Switzerland, and in Jamaica, West Indies. In the U.S she has conducted workshops in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Oregon. Massachusetts workshops include Babson College, Linx Dance Studio, Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre, and schools, studios and community centers in Cambridge, Jamaica Plain, Dorchester, Lynn, Roxbury, Hyde Park,  Mattapan, Attleboro/Norton, Newton, and Wellesley.

Marianne is a recipient of the Dance Belt Award from the City of Cambridge, a former member of the Board of Trustees of the Boston Dance Alliance, and has been a panelist for the Cambridge Arts Council's grant funding program. She is currently the Assistant Director of Benkadi Drum & Dance, a Cambridge-based West African Dance Company. She teaches at Wellesley College, The Dance Complex, Ballet Arts Centre of Winchester, Shady Hill School in Cambridge, and Lesley Ellis School in Arlington.

Abbie MacQuarrie
Abbie MacQuarrie realized at eight years old that she wanted to explore her heritage through Scottish Highland dancing.  It became a lifelong passion.  Presently she is qualified as a Premier dancer and is a member of Highland Dance Boston. Abbie has performed at Sanders Theatre, the Copley-Fairmont Hotel, the Berklee Performance Center, and the Concord Auditorium.

Abbie was not content with one style of dance, and she has moved onto many other forms. Also skilled in both Cape Breton and Irish forms of step dancing, she has studied with Mary MacGillivray, Bonnie Jean MacDonald, and Kieran Jordan. She also draws on Quebec and Appalachian traditions of percussive dance to create a creative and unique style. 

Kelly Silfies and Johnny Giraldo
Kelly Silfies and Johnny Giraldo teach salsa at the Dance Complex and the Havana Club, both in Cambridge.

Johnny was born and raised in Colombia but has been living in Boston for more than 12 years. He has served as director/dancer of the Colombian Folkloric Dance Company BAJUCOL in Boston. He performs throughout New England and represented Boston at the L.A. Salsa Congress 2003 with his brother Andres as Salsa Y Control. Johnny 's style of dance is defined by his knowledge in cha cha, cumbia, merengue, and several other Latin dances. He strongly believes that one of the most important things in dancing are maintaining a connection with your partner and complementing each other through the different moves. Kelly Silfies discovered salsa while living in Chicago. She has studied salsa with Colombian, Puerto Rican, and Dominican instructors and has been teaching salsa many years. Her motto is to enjoy the salsa experience—feel the music, feel the connection to your partner, relax, and have fun!