This fall, the Mercyhurst Dance department instituted a new Protégé Program for students ages 12 to 18.
The goal of this program is to provide supplemental, individualized classical ballet instruction from Mercyhurst’s experienced faculty for young students in the Erie community.
The program also sparks interest in the university, as well as exposure to the dance facilities at Mercyhurst.
“We were looking for a strong classical ballet foundation, dedication, determination and passion for classical ballet,” said Tauna Hunter, professor and chair of Dance.
These fundamentals are important to the department as they are ever-present in the more than 70 Dance majors.
There will be auditions in the spring semester, since the program follows the university’s academic calendar.
The program was ultimately inspired by the dance department’s Guest Artist in Residence, Lesley Bories-Scalise.
Through Bories-Scalise’s work with young students of ballet this summer, she was encouraged to continue working with those students at Mercyhurst throughout the school year.
The program’s weekly class will be taught by one of four Mercyhurst Dance department faculty members: Bories-Scalise; Hunter; C. Noelle Partusch, associate professor of Dance; or Michael S. Gleason, Concurrent Dance faculty.
The students may also have the opportunity to participate in classes taught by guest artists of the Dance department.
“The faculty will focus on the refinement of (the students’) classical ballet technique and pointe work through individualized attention,” Hunter said.
There have not been previous installments of a similar program at Mercyhurst, and the program will remain if there is continued interest.
Since the program only meets once a week for class, there will not be a performance at the end of the session for these students.
However, the Dance department will be presenting its annual ’Tis the Season performance in December, featuring the Mercyhurst dancers.