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'Everybody is a Dancer' in the Eyes of Mercersburg's New Director of Dance

Kelsy Rupp, who started dancing when she was 3 and fell in love with dance at the age of 8, has bright aspirations and dreams for the Mercersburg dance program.

“I want the dancers to feel at home in the dance program,” said Rupp, who recently was named Mercersburg’s director of dance. “I want our students to feel they can be their full authentic selves while dancing at Mercersburg.”

“I believe everybody is a dancer. While I was growing up, the environments I trained in were not instilling this value, so I want to be sure my students take that message with them.” Rupp was first drawn to Mercersburg Academy in high school when one of her friends was a student here.

“Mercersburg Academy is a beautiful place, and my family is all close by, so when the job opportunity presented itself, it was an easy choice,” Rupp said.

As a teacher, Rupp wants to provide her community of dancers with something she felt she lacked growing up. She recognizes that students involved in Mercersburg’s dance program are passionate and care about each other: “As a teacher and director, that is everything.”

Rupp just wrapped up her first year at Mercersburg and, looking ahead, plans to divide the dance program into two tracks: preprofessional and recreational.

The preprofessional track is designed for students who dance year-round, have a deep dedication to the artform, and desire opportunities to travel, train, and perform outside of the academy as part of our student company. The recreational track will provide students who are interested in dance the opportunity to train and perform at Mercersburg for one, two, or three terms, but the flexibility to explore their other cocurricular interests and a less rigorous participation expectation.

This new system “will serve more students in a way they want to be served,” said Rupp, who earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in dance performance with a minor in psychology, at Radford (VA) University.

As a dancer in Ms. Rupp’s program, I know that Mercersburg dancers are passionate and love each other fiercely. I’ve had an incredible year learning from Ms. Rupp. She teaches a mean ballet technique class. She fosters an uplifting learning environment and pushes me to be a great dancer.

Kaiya Hoffman ’25

Rupp also holds an MFA in choreography from Wilson College. Prior to college, she trained in classical ballet at City Ballet School in Hagerstown, MD.

During her tenure at Radford University, she discovered a love for choreography and was introduced to contemporary techniques.

“When I was younger, I tried to fit into a ‘ballet mold,’” Rupp said, noting that the ballet world’s expectation at the time was to be thin and long-legged. This expectation was discouraging and caused Rupp to consider leaving dance altogether as she neared the end of high school and began her college search. However, during her audition and tour of Radford, her desire to pursue dance as a career was validated, and she chose to continue.

“The dance department professors didn’t promote a certain body type; they cared about learning, progress, and passion,” said Rupp, who was named the outstanding graduating senior for Radford’s department of dance. “My professors mostly had similar training backgrounds to me and found their creative home in modern dance. Modern can feel very freeing, but ballet gave me the technique and structure I needed to succeed in the modern/ contemporary realm.”

Rupp is the recipient of numerous awards, such as the Arts Society Scholarship, Pegeen & David Albig Dance Scholarship, and a Who’s Who of American Colleges and Universities award. Rupp was interim director of dance prior to being named director during the 2022-2023 school year.

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