Dance at Mercersburg Academy provides students with the opportunity to acquire proficiency in dance regardless of previous training and background.
Dance at Mercersburg Academy provides students with the opportunity to acquire proficiency in dance regardless of previous training and background while at the same time advancing our most trained dancers as well. Our program is inclusive with a familial environment.
There are two ways students can participate in dance at Mercersburg. First, by taking one of our term dance courses offered during the academic day, fulfilling graduation requirements in the arts. Students may choose courses from introduction to dance, three levels of dance composition (choreography), ballet, pointe, jazz, modern, and Hip hop. Second, students can participate in dance as their Performance Group Activity (after the class day) in the fall, winter, and/or spring terms. After preseason auditions, students are divided into two or three different levels depending on the overall level/ skill of the students.
Dance has also been included in our service trips abroad, including to South Africa, Swaziland, India, and Peru, where we perform and teach dance to children as a means of self-expression, linking dance to self-esteem. Dance is a powerful form of communication and a common language among all cultures. Students in the dance program also participate in the National and Regional High School Dance Festivals, which take place alternating years in various locations around the country including Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Miami.
The dance program utilizes the Reeder Dance Studio and the Dee Dance Studio, located on the lower level of the Burgin Center for the Arts.
Students take weekly classes in ballet (II), pointe (II), modern (I or II), jazz (I or II), improvisation (included in modern/ contemporary classes), tap (I), hip hop (I), and yoga/ conditioning/ core strengthening and stretch class (I).
Meet the Dance Faculty
Arts Faculty and Director of Dance
Denise Dalton is Mercersburg’s director of dance and holds the Douglas Hale Teaching Chair. She arrived at Mercersburg in 2002, served as the head of the arts department from 2008 to 2013, and is a past recipient of the Ammerman Distinguished Teaching Award for Religious and Interdisciplinary Studies. Her choreography has been featured nationally and internationally at venues including DTW in New York City; the Regional and National High School Dance Festivals; the Colony Theater in Miami; South Africa; and India. Denise has trained under scholarship with Trisha Brown and Bessie Schonberg and has danced with renowned choreographers and companies such as Liz Lerman, Stephen Petronio, Eun-me Ahn, Art Bridgeman and Myrna Packer, Momentum Dance Company, and Dance Now Miami. She has studied Bartenieff Fundamentals and Laban Movement Analysis under Bill Evans, incorporating these concepts into her pedagogy, and continues to study and train by participating in summer programs including Bates Dance Festival, American Dance Festival, Bill Evans Teacher Intensives, and The Boulder Jazz Dance Workshops. Denise has participated in several international dance service trip projects, including South Africa, Swaziland, India, and Peru. She previously taught at the University of Massachusetts, Florida International University, and the Dillard Center for the Arts. She is certified in MBSR and a member of NDEO.