Debra Fernandez, Chair
David H. Porter Endowed Chair
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Debra Fernandez is a director/choreographer and dance educator. She comes to the dance world through classical training, is self-taught in the jazz vernacular and somehow developed a sustaining interest in experimental theater. She moved from New York City to Saratoga Springs in 1990 to join the Dance Faculty of Skidmore College where she is currently a full professor and Chair of Dance. She teaches Ballet III, Workshop, Choreography I and II and Performance Elements. Since moving to upstate New York in 1990, she has created over seventy dance pieces for the dancers at Skidmore College. Her dances have toured throughout the state of New York and have also been seen in diverse venues, such as The Yard (Chilmark, Ma.) P.S.122, DIA, Suny Purchase, The Frances Tang Teaching Museum and The Arthur Zankel Music Center.
In 1994 she was invited to work at The Williamstown Theater Festival and she remained a member of the Festival for seven years. While there, she formed several important relationships with directors who would influence the direction of her work. Six collaborations with director Phil Soltanoff (founder of mad dog experimental) have been staged at WTF. Their 1996 festival production of ‘to whom it may concern’ subsequently ran for two months in New York at gAle gAtes, et. al. The Village Voice called it a “taut, site specific piece” that “casts a mesmerizing spell”. In 1997, the show was invited to be part of the Belgrade International Theater Festival (BITEF) in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Their 2001 show, “Strange Attractors”, premiered at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA) and was again performed at the Obie Award winning space, Five Myles, in Brookly, New York. In 1999, she was choreographer for The Virginia Opera’s production of “ORFEO AND EURIDICE”, under the direction of Darko Tresjnak. The Richmond, Virginia Times-Dispatch had this to say: “Stage Director Darko Tresjnak and choreographer Debra Fernandez have created a dreamy, almost hallucinatory conception. Singers move as if dancing in slow motion and dancers express musical ideas as resonantly as musicians.” Her collaboration with director David Pilot and composer Joseph Diebes, “The Malleus Maleficarum”, was presented at The Ontological Theater in New York.
In 2000, the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery opened at Skidmore College and Debra established a close and lasting relationship with the museum. Since it’s opening, she has made four evening length works which have allowed her to focus on the museum as an interactive performance space. Commissioned for the 2000 grand opening of The Tang, “TangO” was a collaboration with David Porter (pianist) and Margo Mensing (visual artist) that centered around a live performance of John Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano. Using a map constructed in nine unfolding sections, the audience was encouraged to experience the performance through a series of interactive instructions and suggestions. “BALLS”, a collaboration with painter Paul Henry Ramirez, acclaimed percussionist Glen Velez and composer Carl Landa was performed in November of 2002. Named as one of the ‘year’s ten best’ by Metroland, “BALLS” was described as an “unabridged thesaurus” of dance, “compelling, odd and beautiful”. In 2004, she collaborated again with Margo Mensing and David Porter. Their 2004 production, entitled “MAK 3”, was an evening of dance, theater, music, art and film constructed and created to illuminate the live performance of George Crumb’s masterwork, Makrokosmos III. Recently, she teamed up again with painter Ramirez for The Newark Museum’s bicentennial celebration. “Zero Point Zero” was a dialogue in dance with Ramirez’s exhibition, Blackout. It was performed at the Newark Museum (Newark, N.J.) in March of 2010. In June of 2010 she returned to pure dance and produced “Swan Song”, to a score by Richard Danielpour. The work was commissioned by The Saratoga ArtsFest and was performed in June and October of that year in the Arthur Zankel Music Center.
Her most recent piece and third collaboration with David Porter and Margo Mensing, “Keeping Company With Cage” was performed at the Zankel Music Center in April of 2012 and was repeated as one of the highlights of Artsfest 2012. The Albany Times Union said, “Framing “Sonatas and Interludes” with movement, video imagery and artful lighting, they succeeded in creating a mood — enigmatic, abstract and atmospheric — that gracefully complemented and enhanced the music without detracting from it or trying to render it more conventionally accessible or entertaining.” In October of 2012, “Swan Song” was presented again as part of Saratoga Dances II, curated by NYCB dancer and choreographer Justin Peck. The Albany Times Union’s Tresca Weinstein said, “Debra Fernandez’s “Swan Song”, choreographed specifically for the Zankel in 2010, painted the most magical and mysterious images of the evening. NYCB dancer Abi Stafford, along with Skidmore seniors Alison DeFranco and Victoria Stroker, floated and curved across the stage to the bittersweet strains of Richard Danielpour’s “Apparitions”, played live by the string quartet. Again and again, Stafford returned to the windows, watching for something—and then, on the other side of the glass, a man in white (Andrew Scordato) could be seen approaching. He appeared and disappeared in the waning light, until at last Stafford ran into the wings, and then emerged amid the trees to join him, her abandoned sisters wistfully watching her go.”
Debra has twice served on the choreography panel for The New York State Council for the Arts and also served in 1994 as a panelist for the New York State Foundation for the Arts. An avid advocate for dance, she was chosen as one of the first Artists-in-the-Schools for The Yard, a colony for choreographers in Martha’s Vineyard, and was asked to return as the first teacher in their Junior Theater/Dance workshop program. Debra has also received choreography fellowships to The Djerassi Resident Center for the Arts in California and The Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, New Mexico. Since 2008 she has served as head of the scholarship committee for Saratoga City Ballet and has raised over $15,000 to help students in need further their dance training. She is a long time yoga practitioner and her yoga workshops are well known in the Capital Region. Debra would like to thank all her teachers along the way who helped shape her work and her life. She is profoundly grateful to them.
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Associate Professor joined the Skidmore faculty in 1981. She earned her M.Ed. and Ed.D. in dance from Temple University. She serves on the Board of the NYS Council on the Arts Dance Panel, NYS Dance Force, NYS Dance Education Association, Capital/Saratoga Dance Alliance, and Partners in Dance. She has been a guest lecturer at the National Museum of Dance, The Egg Theater in Albany, and Skidmore Summer Seminars. She performed with the Sybil Dance Company of Philadelphia and with Albany area dance companies. She has collaborated with visual artists and composers to create integrated performance pieces for art galleries. She currently performs as a guest artist with the Isadora Duncan International Institute Dancers of NYC and toured with them in Greece. In June 2005 she participated in the First Symposium to Reinstate the Delphic Games: Festival of Delphic Arts in Delphi, Greece. She has re-staged classic modern dance works by Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman, Sophie Maslow, Pearl Primus, Donald McKayle, and Isadora Duncan. Professor DiSanto-Rose currently teaches Improvisation, Modern Technique, Modern Reconstruction Workshop, Dance for the Child, Senior Dance Capstone, as well as, a First-Year Scribner Seminar-Human Dilemmas.
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Rubén Graciani began his artistic career as a scholarship student at the North Carolina School of the Arts, where he majored in Modern Dance. After receiving his high school degree, Mr. Graciani was awarded a scholarship to attend The Juilliard School in New York City. In addition to the Juilliard program, Mr. Graciani studied on scholarship with several major New York dance companies, including the Martha Graham Dance Company and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.
Mr. Graciani completed his studies at the State University of New York – Purchase College, receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance. While attending Purchase, Mr. Graciani was invited to perform in three International Festivals of Dance staged in Taiwan and China. Mr. Graciani was also invited to join the Kevin Wynn Collection, a New York based Modern Dance Company.
After graduation, Rubén joined the Mark Morris Dance Group as a contract performer. Mr. Graciani’s five-year affiliation with the company resulted in national and international tours. He also performed as a founding member of bopi’s black sheep/dances by kraig patterson. After ten years as a member of the New York City dance community, Rubén began graduate school at the University of Maryland – College Park. While there he presented nine works of choreography for the Maryland Dance Ensemble, and premiered two works at a self-produced concert with Connie Fink and Jennifer Dorsey. His M.F.A. thesis concert, Search for my Familiar, was performed to critical acclaim. Mr. Graciani also was a guest artist with the CityDance Ensemble at the Kennedy Center.
In September of 2005 Mr. Graciani joined the faculty at Ohio University as an Assistant Professor. While there he received two Arts for Ohio Choreographic Grants, one of which resulted in the collaboration, Oyster, with composer John Orfe and the Grammy Award winning new music ensemble, Alarm Will Sound.
In addition to his work at Ohio University, Rubén was a member of the Joe Goode Performance Group for two seasons, 2005-2007. Mr. Graciani’s work with the company has included contributing to the creation and premiere of new work at the company’s home season in San Francisco, two national tours of new work and repertory, a site specific performance at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral, and teaching master classes all over the country.
In the summer of 2007, he appeared as a guest artist with the Brian Brooks Moving Company at the Gwang Ju International Performing Arts Festival in Gwang Ju, South Korea. In the Spring of 2008 his first solo show was presented at the SAS Performing Arts Center in Shanghai, China. Mr. Graciani was a company member and rehearsal director for Company Stefanie Batten Bland, from 2008-2010.
Currently an Associate Professor, Rubén joined the faculty of Skidmore College in September of 2008. While at Skidmore Mr. Graciani has collaborated with renowned composer Richard Danielpour and pianist, Xiayin Wang on the work Swing and a Miss, which premiered at Skidmore College’s Zankel Music Center; worked in collaboration with the Academy ACJW for a performance of L’Histoire du Soldat, and premiered two works for Saratoga ArtsFest. Rubén’s work on dance films with his Skidmore students was recently profiled in the November 2012 edition of Dance Magazine. He has created 11 choreographic works for the Skidmore Dance Department, and he teaches Advanced Modern Technique, Contemporary Ballet, Modern Dance Partnering, Choreography, and Senior Capstone among others. In the fall of 2012 he began teaching in the Skidmore Inter-Group relations program.
His recently formed dance company, RG Dance Projects, has already had two successful engagements in NYC. RG Dance Projects premiered a new work at the DanceNow Raw Materials show, and the DanceNow Joe’s Pub festival in September of 2012. RGDP won the Audience Favorite Award for the night while performing at the DanceNow Joe’s Pub Festival and was invited to perform again in the encore presentation of the best of the festival. RG Dance Projects has been awarded a residency at SILO Arts in Pennsylvania in the spring of 2013 to prepare for their inaugural full season in NYC.
He currently serves on the Dance Panel of the New York State Council of the Arts.
Denise Warner Limoli
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Denise Warner Limoli, Associate Professor Denise Warner Limoli trained in Connecticut with Mme. Vera Nikitins of the Riga Opera Ballet. With a full scholarship, she attended both the Washington School of Ballet and, for three summers, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. In addition to classical ballet, her training included Graham and Limón modern dance, Bharatanatyam, Flamenco and character dance. She frequently studied in NYC at the Ballet Theatre School with the great teachers Valentina Pereyaslavec, Leon Danielian, Patricia Wilde and Yurek Lazowsky.
Ms. Warner Limoli performed with the Hartford Ballet, the Connecticut Opera and the Norfolk Civic Ballet before moving to NYC in 1970. She immediately began performing with American Ballet Theatre as a seasonal dancer and joined the company in 1972. With ABT, Ms. Warner Limoli performed all the great romantic and classical ballets, works of Tudor, MacMillan, Ashton, Robbins, Feld and others. She shared the Metropolitan Opera House stage and toured internationally with the greatest dancers of the day, such as Natalia Makarova, Cynthia Gregory, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Fernando Bujones. She taught company class regularly and was a substitute teacher in the Ballet Theatre School. She appeared in many PBS Live from Lincoln Center broadcasts and danced in the films “The Turning Point” and “First Position.”
After retiring from performing, Ms. Warner Limoli was ballet master for the Nutmeg Ballet Company, the Minnesota Dance Theatre and the Nevada Dance Theatre. She was a member of the ballet faculty at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Dance Division and the North Carolina School of the Arts.
Denise Warner Limoli joined the Skidmore College dance faculty in 1992. She has worked to develop the curriculum and increase the rigor of the ballet program and has staged classical ballets and choreographed contemporary works for the Skidmore Ballet Workshop.
Prof. Limoli has collaborated with the conductor of the Skidmore Orchestra, Prof. Anthony Holland on two joint productions in the Zankel Music Center. In 2011, the classical ballet workshop and the orchestra performed Swan Lake Act II; in 2013, Skidmore dancers and the Skidmore Orchestra presented “An Evening With the Ballets Russes,” including Les Sylphides, L’Apres Midi d’un Faune, and Firebird.
Ms. Warner Limoli has taught regularly for the ABT Summer Intensives, Kaatsbaan International Dance Center Extreme Ballet, and the Nutmeg Conservatory International Summer Intensive. Locally, she has taught master classes and staged ballets for the Saratoga City Ballet and Ballet Regent. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Museum of Dance and is chair of the Nominating Committee for the Hall of Fame. She curated the exhibit, American Ballet Theatre: Then and Now for the museum. Denise Warner Limoli is the author of Dance in Saratoga Springs published by the History Press.
Denise Warner Limoli is married to Michael Limoli, renowned clarinetist and dance pianist. They have worked together in the ballet studio for over thirty years. Their two adult children are both Skidmore alumni.
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Mary Harney, Artist-in-Residence, joined the Skidmore dance faculty in 2000. During her tenure at Skidmore she has taught all levels of Modern Dance technique, Modern Performance Workshop, Ballet I, Choreography I, The Dance Experience, Senior Dance Capstone, and is a contributing faculty member in the business course, Presenting A Brand Called Me. Since her arrival at Skidmore, she has choreographed over 25 new works for the Skidmore students.
Classically trained in upstate New York from an early age, Mary graduated with a BFA from Purchase College Conservatory of Dance. While at Purchase, as a member of the Purchase Dance Repertory Company, she performed the works of many top choreographers. During this period, she also danced with the Martha Graham Dance Company. During her senior year, Mary was asked to teach a foundational coaching class in Graham Technique to under classmen, was the teaching assistant for the Modern Variations course and, occasionally substituted in technique classes for her professors. It was there that she discovered a passion for teaching, coaching and choreographing, which ultimately shaped her career.
In addition to her work at Skidmore, Mary served as a member of the dance faculty at Union College, the New York State Summer School of the Arts, and has taught extensively at independent dance schools throughout the New York metropolitan area and the capital region. As an advocate of the arts in education, Mary has conducted master classes and extended workshops in public schools.
Over the course of her career, Mary’s choreographic work has been presented in several venues and for a wide array of functions. In 2006, at the request of the Office of Development at Skidmore, she choreographed “Genesis” with colleague Denise Limoli. The concept was to create a work that would clearly define differing perspectives (modern dance vs. ballet, respectively) and would speak to the college’s ideology that “creative thought matters.” The work was presented at a college benefit banquet at Gotham Hall in New York City. It was again presented at the Egg in Albany, New York, as part of the Gubernatorial Inauguration Celebration for Eliot Spitzer in 2007. In 2006, to represent Skidmore at the Committee of Independent Colleges and Universities’ 50th Anniversary Banquet, an excerpt of Mary’s work, “Black Dress” was performed at the New York State Museum in Albany, New York. Her work has also been presented at the Union College Bicentennial Celebration in Schenectady, New York, The Union College Steinmetz Symposium, Schenectady Community College, Fulton Montgomery Community College, Schenectady County Arts Festival, and the Saratoga Arts Festival.
In the spring of 2012, Mary directed some of Skidmore’s finest dancers in a production of Martha Graham’s “Steps in the Street”. Under her tutelage, the dancers performed the work at both Skidmore and Kaatsbaan International Dance Center in Tivoli, NY. Adding to the excitement of this outstanding project, the students were invited by Janet Eilber, Artistic Director of the Martha Graham Dance Company, to perform the work at The Joyce Theater in NYC as part of the first annual “University Partners Showcase”, in March of 2012. Conceived by Ms. Eilber, this was a collaborative event that was included in the programming of the Graham Company’s 86th New York season. The Skidmore dancers shared the evening with dancers from The Hartt School (CN), Interlochen Arts Academy (MI), New World School of the Arts (FL), Point Park University (PA), University of Arizona (AR), and Graham’s second company, Graham II (NY). The program included six masterworks by Martha Graham, seminal to her revolution in modern dance. The Skidmore dancers received rave reviews from all who saw their rendition of the classic work.
Mary’s directorial experience includes many years of work with regional ballet in both the capital district and Orange County, NY. Her work as rehearsal director for Northeast Ballet in Schenectady, NY resulted in well received productions of “Cinderella” and yearly performances of “The Nutcracker” at the historical Proctor’s Theater.
An active member of the dance community, Mary has served on the Board of Directors of the Capital Region Dance Alliance since 2001. For the past eight years, she has been on the planning committee and is a site coordinator for the yearly Dance + Festival at the National Museum of Dance. Mary served as chairperson of the Capital Region Dance Alliance Summer Scholarship committee from 2003-2006. She presently serves on the scholarship committees of both the Dance Alliance and Saratoga City Ballet. She is committed and dedicated to her mission of helping young dancers pursue their dreams.
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Carl Landa is the Musical Director of the Dance Department. He teaches Music for Dancers, accompanies modern and ballet classes, and composes and records music for students, faculty, and guest artists.
Before joining the Skidmore College faculty in 2000 he was an accompianist at the Martha Graham School for Contemporary Dance, the Merce Cunningham School, the Julliard School, Purchase College, and many private dance studios in New York City.
Carl’s original scores have been used by Complexions Dance Company, Battleworks, and many colleges and universities including the Alvin Ailey School, The University of Richmond, and Long Island University.
Carl has been on the faculty of the Bates Dance Festival since 2001.
Technical Director, Lighting Designer & Manager
Lori joined the Skidmore faculty in 1998. She earned her MFA in lighting design from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She was a freelance lighting designer in NYC for ten years and had the pleasure of designing for such noted choreographers as Vicky Schick, Shelly Lee and Gus Solomons Jr. She served as Lighting Director of the Red Parrot Cabaret designing for a wide array of musical performers including Cab Calloway and Tito Puente. Lori collaborated with hundreds of choreographers and performance artists while serving as the resident lighting designer at the Gowanus Arts Exchange in Brooklyn. She worked with Director/Choreographer Elise Long for nearly 10 years designing for her company, Spoke the Hub Dancing, at numerous indoor and outdoor venues throughout NYC and Great Britain. While serving as the resident Lighting Designer for Dance Theatre Workshop (DTW), she designed the lighting for three Obie award winning shows: Janie Geiser’s Stories from Here, Dan Hurlin’s A Cool Million, and Paul Zaloom’s House of Horrors.
Locally, Lori has designed for the Saratoga City Ballet, Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company and HMT. In January, she will be traveling with a band of artists to Death Valley, CA to put on a weekend of workshops and performances as a fundraiser for Marta Becket’s historic Amargosa Hotel and Opera House.
Lori is a member of USITT and at several annual conferences has served on panels under the lighting commission. She has also served on the board of the League of Women Voters of Saratoga County. In this capacity, she has led sessions and caucuses on a variety of citizen’s rights issues traveling to three National LWV conventions. Lori is one of the founders of the Saratoga Peace Alliance, a local, grassroots peace organization. In January 2013, she traveled with a band of artists.
Technical Assistant / Stage Manager
Peter M. Kobor
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Peter joined the Dance Department in 2006. Peter, a local Native to Saratoga Springs, spent 2001 to 2006 producing theater in Saratoga Springs and Lake George and playing piano in local bands. He has served as the Production Manager, Lighting Designer and Stage Manager for Ellen Sinoploi Dance Co., Tango Fusion Dance Company and Nacra Dance Co. In 2006, Peter became the Production Coordinator, Stage Manager and Master Carpenter at Opera Saratoga (formerly Lake George Opera). Initially, Peter began working part time for the Skidmore Dance and Theater departments as a Student Supervisor and Stage Manager. Then in 2010, he became a full time Technical Assistant and Stage Manager. Peter owns his own production company, StudioArts Entertainment, offering a full music studio, digital media production and support for local Dance and Theater companies.
Supervises student crew working for the Dance Department
Stage Manager for Dance Department productions
Assists with maintaining the facility and equipment
Supervises student clubs utilizing the Dance Theater
Veena V. Chandra
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Meghan M. DelPrete
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Sarah E. DiPasquale
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Sarah earned her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Sage Graduate School and a B.S. in Health and Exercise Science from Syracuse University. She trained at the Boston Conservatory with both a ballet and modern concentration and danced professionally with the Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company for 5 seasons. Sarah’s performance career ended early secondary to injury and she is now passionate about educating dancers on injury prevention and producing scholarly research on dance injuries. She currently practices as a physical therapist, specializing in rehabilitation from dance injuries. Sarah has taught ballet and modern technique throughout upstate New York including at Syracuse University, Siena College, and at the National Museum of Dance.
Her choreography has been presented at numerous choreographic festivals, most recently at the Egg in Albany with ‘Sinopoli and Friends’. Sarah joined the Skidmore community 2008 as a Lecturer in Dance and teaches Anatomy and Kinesiology: A Dancer’s View and The Dance Experience.
DA274 – Anatomy and Kinesiology for Dancers
DA101 – The Dance Experience
Dance Department research in progress:
The Relationship between Core Stability, Fatigue, and Lower Extremity Injuries in Female College-Age Contemporary Dancers
Injury Management in Dancers: Medical Practitioner Accessibility and Utilization
Julie P. Gedalecia
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David M. Otto
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Debra A. Pigliavento
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Antoinette L. Smith
Toni Smith, MFA, Adjunct Faculty, is a dancer/choreographer who performed in New York City with the Vanaver Caravan, Debra Wanner, Jeff Slayton, Joyce Morganroth and others. She was the Artistic Director of Toni Smith and Dancers from 1979 to 1986. Toni Smith is a Body-Mind Centering® Practitioner and an Infant Development Movement Educator and maintains a private body work practice in New York’s Capital region. She is a founding member of the NYS DanceForce and Partners in Dance: a Consortium of Capital Region Dance Sponsors and served as the Artistic Director of the National Museum of Dance. She is a 23 year veteran of the Skidmore Dance Faculty and serves as the Faculty Advisor for Summer Dance in the Office of the Dean of Special Programs of Skidmore College. She currently teaches for the Dance Program at Russell Sage College and on the Continuing Education faculty at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy. Toni Smith is the originator of Adaptive Yoga for persons with disabilities and teaches workshops for Body-Mind Centering upstate NY. At Skidmore, Toni teaches Body Mind Centering.
Carol Ann Elze
Dance & Music
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Patricia A. Hadfield
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