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Mercer Dance Ensemble to Present 'ROOTS TO WINGS' at Kelsey Theatre


Creative exploration and joyful energy have been the hallmarks of the Dance Program at Mercer County Community College (MCCC) this year. With new artistic direction and three new instructors, MCCC's current students, Dance alumni and faculty are eager to bring their work to the stage. The Mercer Dance Ensemble (MDE) presents "Roots to Wings: MDE in Concert" on Saturday, May 6 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 7 at 2 p.m. Kelsey Theatre is located on the college's West Windsor Campus at 1200 Old Trenton Road.

The show includes 15 dances ranging from modern styles to contemporary ballet, tap, ballroom dancing, theater art and improvisation. According to instructor Jennifer Gladney, MDE co-director, some of the numbers are simply for the joy of dance, while others create stories for the audience to interpret. "Our theme embraces the idea that something new is strongly rooted in things that have come before. We are giving our students the skills to fly on to new adventures," she said.

Choreography will be contributed by faculty, students, alumni and community dancers. Gladney and fellow choreographer Rebecca Brodowski, both of whom are MCCC Dance alumni, have been heavily involved in MDE concerts for many years. MDE founder and long-time director Janell Byrne (now retired from MCCC) will showcase a new piece, while Jody Gazenbeek-Person, coordinator of MCCC's Dance and Theatre program, will present a work set in an art museum's sculpture exhibition. Another piece, created by Gladney, celebrates the new dual agreement for dance between MCCC and Rider University, where she also teaches.

Gladney notes that dance brings people together in the most positive of ways. "Audience members can expect to feel the enthusiasm and joy of these performers. They will love the energy we will bring to Kelsey Theatre."

Student dancers include Sabrina Ash of Lawrenceville, Nicole Ashley of Hamilton, Ursula Blanchard of Princeton, Emma Bryce of Hamilton, Nestor Pacheco-Cruz of Lawrenceville, Brittany Dintinger of Hamilton, Elizabeth Orellana-Elvira of Trenton, Kayla Johnson of Wrightstown, Caitlin Kazanski of Robbinsville, Kimberly King of Hamilton, Diego Montealegre of Lawrenceville, Georgiana Oppon of Hightstown, Brianna Rapp of East Windsor, Brandon Rivera of Hamilton, Rachel Sanchez of Hamilton, Madhuri Sivaqanesh of Plainsboro, and Victoria Smalls of Hamilton. A mix of 10 MCCC alumni and community members will also perform. Many of the dancers will perform in multiple numbers.

Tickets for "MDE" are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors, and $14 students/children. Tickets may be purchased at, or by calling the Kelsey Theatre box office at 609-570-3333, or in person prior to the performance. (The box office opens one hour before the show.) Kelsey Theatre is wheelchair accessible, with free parking available next to the theater.

The MCCC Dance program includes the study of jazz, ballet, and modern dance styles from the fundamentals to advanced instruction. With the benefit of small classes and individualized instruction, students may earn either an A.A. degree, which prepares them for transfer as juniors into a Bachelor of Arts program in Dance, or an A.F.A. degree in the Performing Arts, a transfer program in which they combine conservatory training in theater, dance and music with education in the Liberal Arts and Sciences. More about the MCCC Theatre/Dance program is available at

Pictured: Caitlin Kazanski of Robbinsville and Victoria Smalls of Hamilton are featured in "On the Nature of Flying," one of 15 original dance numbers to be performed by the Mercer Dance Ensemble May 6 and 7 at MCCC's Kelsey Theatre.

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