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Dance Research Symposium

PSU's 3rd Annual Dance Research Symposium and Performance. Hosted by the Pittsburg State University Dance Minor Program

April 12, 2023

Give to Dance Minor

Community Opening Number

Choreographed by dance minors in the Theories and Fundamentals of Teaching Dance Course Community members.
This dance is an upbeat mashup of songs showing how the art of dance can bring a community together.


Choreographed by Marius Petipa
Yung-Rou, Ko (Zoe Ke)

Zoe, a Medical Informatics Innovative Application major, is an exchange student from Taiwan. She has been studying ballet for over ten years and earned 6th place in the Taiwan Grand Prix in 2015. However, she has not danced since before high school, and this is her first performance since then. She is honored to have this opportunity to dance at PSU. Coppelia is a classical ballet based on a story by E.T.A. Hoffmann entitled “Der Sandmann” (“The Sandman”), which was published in 1815. Zoe says, “I chose this dance because it displays a lot of emotional expressions, and I am interested in playing this role in the dance.” She further explains “I am so honored to have this opportunity to show the variety of emotions by dancing! I would like to especially thank Dr. Jewett and Professor Yana Feldman for their help during the process! Thank you, Yana, for the choreography and the beautiful tutu and thank you Dr. Jewett for your advice on lighting, music, and dancing skills!” Zoe adds, “Dancing is another language. When I am dancing, it gives me courage to meet many people and friends who also enjoy dancing and it makes me feel more confident about myself! Dancing is part of my life, and I am thankful for having this opportunity to be on the stage and perform.”


Choreographed by Elizabeth Hayes
Mackenna Fountain, *Halee Harpenau, *Carissa Marrone, *Makayla Pilcher, *Alyssa Strader, *Clarissa Worley

Elizabeth Hayes choreographed this piece and several other dances in the show. She is a graduate student and graduate assistant for Dance in the Department of Health, Human Performance and Dance. Elizabeth states, "This dance is about standing up for yourself, even when it isn't popular. As a habitual people pleaser, I often make myself uncomfortable to appease those I am interacting with. Standing up for yourself is important. I chose to pair this serious topic with bits of character and silly gestural movements that juxtapose the seriousness of the matter. That choice is to reflect how ridiculous some people act when others don't agree with them."


Choreographed by Dani Torgler
Dani Torgler

Dani is a senior with a double major in Psychology and Human Resource Development.She has been dancing for 12 years and a member of the Pitt Dance Team for the last three years.Dani would like to give a special thanks to her family and close friends for encouraging her to continue dancing throughout the years and for supporting her in all of her events and performances. She would also like to thank the Pitt Dance Team and the Dance Minor for all the memories and friends she has made through both of these programs and for allowing her to continue performing. Dani states, “Dance has been a wonderful outlet for me and is extremely meaningful to my life. It triggers my creative side and allows me to disconnect from any stressors and feel free in the moment. Despite the fact I am graduating, dance will always be a part of me and I know I will continue dancing in the future.”


Choreographed by Jordan Belcher and *Alyssa Strader
*Alyssa Strader

Alyssa is a junior majoring in Psychology. She has been dancing for 15 years competitively in studios and schools and is currently minoring in dance. Alyssa explains that this dance is about leaving an unhealthy relationship, whether that be with a friend or a partner. Throughout the dance, you can see the colored lights change from blue to orange to gradually represent growth and change. Alyssa states, “This dance was choreographed to be my solo for the state competition during my senior year. However, at the beginning of that year, I tore my ACL. I am excited to finally perform this dance two years later and show the community how they have helped me recover and regain my courage over these past years.”


Choreographed by *Halee Harpenau
*Halee Harpenau

Halee is a junior with a major in Recreation Services, Sport and Hospitality Management.
Halee has grown up dancing for 18 years but tap dance has always been her favorite style of dance. At the age of 15, she started traveling around the country to Orlando, Phoenix, Dallas and Detroit for various tap festivals, workshops and intensives to gain more knowledge about tap dance. She has also been a cast member of a national tap company based in Phoenix, AZ (Tap 24.7) for four years. Halee would like to thank her family and friends this past school year for their love and support.
Halee states, “The tap dance community is truly one of a kind. It has led me to meet so many incredible people. Tap dance is not only a dance, it is an art, expression, music and rhythm. I feel that more communities need to know and experience this style of dance and understand that it is not a dying art form. It is a forever unique form of entertainment and music.”


Choreographed by Elizabeth Hayes
Contemporary Dance Class: *Emily Burke, *Liv Golden, Jenna Herrstrom, *Josie Jacquinot, *Lexi McGowen, *Katie Nelson, *Nayeli Ramirez, Emma Snider, Dani Torgler, Skylar Weers

Elizabeth explains this dance is about the intricacies of support systems. Sometimes we have to carry the burden of others. Sometimes, we feel like the burden ourselves. When do we have to put up boundaries when carrying the burden of others to prevent our own burnout? When do we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and let someone else carry us? When do we feel like we could do it on our own? When are we wrong?
“Community is a broad word that really describes individuals and their relationship to each other. Hopefully this piece inspires reflection on the relationships that you hold with your close community,” Elizabeth explains.


Choreographed by *Kassi Burns
*Kassi Burns

Kassi is a sophomore majoring in Elementary Education.
Kassi has been dancing since she was three years old and is so glad that she gets the opportunity to continue dancing at Pitt State. She hopes to continue dancing throughout her life and incorporate dance into her classroom when she becomes an elementary school teacher.
This dance, “Burn”, tells the story of Eliza Hamilton burning the letters from her husband when she loses the ability to trust him. It’s about the pain that loss can bring, but also the power we have to overcome it!
Kassi states, “This dance represents courage to me because I’m taking a literal leap of faith by performing something on stage that I choreographed myself.”


Choreographed by Kassandra Lewis
*Kassandra Lewis

Kassandra (Kassy) is a sophomore majoring in Nursing. This is her 15th year dancing. She did studio dance for 11 years, but really fell in love all over again doing dance team at her high school. She has also been a member of the PSU Dance team for two years. This dance means a lot to Kassy as it expresses someone being there throughout all the struggles someone else may encounter. Kassy states, “As a daughter of someone with Bipolar Disorder, mental health is something I am very passionate about and this dance helps me advocate for that. I will also be taking this solo to Miss Kansas in June!” Kassy says “Dance has always been a way to express myself and find relief from everyday life, and I am very excited the community gets to participate in that with this year’s dance research symposium!”


Choreographed by *Clarissa Worley
*Clarissa Worley

Clarissa is a freshman majoring in Family Science Education.
Clarissa has danced for 12 years and would love to coach for a dance team in the future. She states, “To be courageous you must use your voice and in dance you can scream.”


Choreographed by Elizabeth Hayes
Advanced Jazz Class: *Emily Burke, Kolbeigh Green, *Halee Harpenau, *Rylea Harris, *Jordan Haworth, Anna Holmes, *Lexi McGowen, Lindsay Pruett, *Nayeli Ramirez, Kayla Rosche, *Alyssa Strader, *Mattie Vacca

Elizabeth states, “I love jazz! It is so fun to perform. Hopefully these phenomenal dancers can make you smile!”


Choreographed by Chiann Miller
Skylar Weers

Skylar is a Freshman with a major in Marketing. She has danced competitively throughout middle school and high school. Skylar explains, “Throughout this dance, it shows how relationships can leave emotional bruises.”


Choreographed by Madison Thies and Jenna Herrstrom
Jenna Herrstrom

Jenna started dancing when she was five and began competing at the age of 11. Her freshman year of high school she found her second family at Infinity Dance Academy. “My instructors, Alyshia Needham, Harley Roberts, Madison Thies, and Chiann Miller provided me so much support and guidance throughout the years. Not only did they teach me dance, but also life skills I will always take with me. By my side through my dance journey is Skylar Weers. She was always my safe place and biggest supporter. I’m lucky to have her with me to this day.” Jenna explains the meaning behind this dance is learning to love your body and the things that make you who you are. “Thank you so much to Madison Thies for creating such an amazing piece and concept for me. I love performing it and being able to share a message to those watching.”


Choreographed by *Mattie Vacca and *Liv Golden
*Mattie Vacca and *Liv Golden

Mattie and Liv are both freshmen and Mattie is majoring in Elementary Education Unified and Liv is a Nursing major.
Mattie and Liv grew up dancing and were members of the 2022-2023 Pitt State Dance Team. They state, “This dance symbolizes our support for each other over the past year. We are forever grateful for dance bringing us together.”


Choreographed by Elizabeth Hayes
*Rylea Harris, *Jordan Haworth, Anna Holmes, *Kassy Lewis, Hayley Monday, *Alyssa Strader, Paige Wilbert, *Clarissa Worley

Elizabeth Hayes, the choreographer of this dance, explains that the dance is representative of the downward spiral that one can get stuck in while in the midst of a mental disorder. We cannot stop ourselves from spiraling and getting more and more stuck in our own harmful thoughts. Though the self-isolation seems to only effect ourselves, once we are out of the spiral, we see how harmful we really were to everyone around us. This dance takes courage and vulnerability for all of the dancers. Dance is an amazing art form that allows us to communicate in ways that words can’t.


Choreographed by Marius Petipa
Yung-Rou, Ko (Zoe Ke)

Zoe, a Medical Informatics Innovative Application major, is an exchange student from Taiwan. She has been studying ballet for over ten years and has earned 6th place in the Taiwan Grand Prix in 2015. However, she did not keep dancing since high school, and this is her first performance since then. She is honored to have this opportunity to dance at PSU. Paquita is made by French composer, Édouard Deldevez, and Paris Opéra Ballet Master, Joseph Mazilier. It was first presented at the Salle Le Peletier by the Paris Opera Ballet on April 1, 1846 and Paquita had been retained till 1851. The story takes place in Spain during the presence of Napoleon’s army. Zoe states, “Actually, I performed Paquita in my second year of middle school and I liked this performance a lot. Eight years later, I decided to interpret the same variation from a different perspective, and I would like to share this variation with you.” She further explains, “I am so honored to have this opportunity to show the variety of emotions by dancing! I would like to especially thank Dr. Jewett and Professor Yana Feldman for their help during the process! Thank you, Yana, for the choreography and the beautiful tutu and thank you Dr. Jewett for your advice on lighting, music, and dancing skills!”


Choreographed by *Halee and Jeana Harpenau
*Halee and Jeana Harpenau

Halee is a junior with a major in Recreation Services, Sport and Hospitality Management.
Halee started dancing at the age of two, doing “Mommy and Me” classes, following the footsteps (literally) of her mother, Jeana, who had grown up dancing for 18 years and teaching tap dance for 14 years. Halee has continued tap dancing for 18 years and now teaches and choreographs just like her mom.
Halee states, “Out of all of the years we’ve danced and taught together, we have never performed together. This year, the Dance Symposium happens to fall on my dad’s birthday. My dad, Mark, has always been a huge fan of the Beatles and has influenced our family to become Beatles lovers too. This dance that my mom and I choreographed is for him. Happy Birthday Papa Mark!”


Choreographed by *Jordan Haworth
*Jordan Haworth

Jordan is a sophomore majoring in Biology and Spanish and minoring in Dance. She is the feature twirler at PSU and has been twirling since she was six years old and has been dancing since she was 13. She received the placement of 3rd with this routine, Merry Go Round of Life, at baton twirling nationals in 2022. This piece was created to show the love and appreciation for classical pieces while collaborating other arts into it as well, such as baton twirling. Jordan states, “This dance means a lot to me because it gives me a chance to show that baton twirling is not a dying sport or art, and neither is classical music. I find peace within myself while I am baton twirling and dancing because I am allowed to portray my feelings through movements as well as show how much love I have for these sports.”


Choreographed by Agrippina Vaganova
Yana Feldman, Instructor of PSU Dance

Yana settled on this classical variation about the Roman goddess of the hunt, Diana (Greek goddess: Artemis). Of all the different stories that ballet can tell, the Diana Variation is an epitome of courage and strength. “As an instructor of dance (ballet) in our local community, Dance is part of my every day life. But the most important skill I teach is probably courage, a kind of inner strength and empowerment to feel that you CAN succeed. Interestingly, I have found that college students and adult students also struggle with courage in themselves whether it be succeeding in dance or other ventures. Both fear of failure and fear of success can paralyze us from taking the actions we dream to take. I love the theme we chose this year: it takes a lot of courage to put yourself forward, but it also takes community and collaboration to make it happen!”


Choreographed by Elizabeth Hayes
Annika Anzjon, *Emily Burke, *Kassi Burns, Kenzie Coester, *Kaytie Frisch, Megan Guthrie, *Jordan Haworth, Jenna Herrstrom, Anna Holmes, Hayley Monday, *Kassy Lewis, Treva Neathery, Dani Torgler, *Mattie Vacca, Skylar Weers, Paige Wilbert.

Everyone is dependent on technology. This piece is an observation on the overconsumption of media and technology in today’s society; a tool and a barrier.


Choreographed by Christi Leonard
*Lexi Brodrick

Lexi is a freshman majoring in Criminal Justice with a minor in Dance. Lexi has been dancing for 16 years and seven of those have included competition dance.


Staged by Yana Feldman and Choreographed by Marius Petipa
Ballet/Contemporary Class: Zoe Ke Ko, *Nayeli Ramirez, Olivia Sanders, Debbie Thomas, Aichatou Agbere


Choreographed by *Emily Burke
*Emily Burke

Emily is a freshman majoring in Early Childhood Unified: Birth -Kindergarten.
She has been dancing for about seven years and aside from dance, some other things that she hopes to do in the future are to become a preschool teacher and restore Victorian era homes. Emily explains that this dance is a representation of the over-sexualization of women’s bodies and the role that society plays in enforcing the stigma around them. “I have seen firsthand how from the second that many women are born, they are taught that their bodies are sexual things and that they should be ashamed of them. My hope for the future is that women are able to feel comfortable in their own skin and not feel ashamed of the bodies that they were born into.” Emily says, “Dance has impacted my life in so many positive, incredible ways. Not only has dance introduced me to many of my best friends, but it has instilled confidence, creativity, and vulnerability into me in a way that I don’t think anything else ever could.”


Choreographed by Hayley Monday
Hayley Monday

Hayley is a senior majoring in Interior Design with a minor in Construction Technology. Hayley has been dancing since she was 6 years old and has been a part of the dance program at PSU for the past 4 years and has choreographed solos and duets for the dance symposium throughout her time at PSU. The routine “Sun” has been the most challenging and bittersweet choreography she has ever done as this dance is a dedication piece to Hayley’s best friend, her Nana. “Sun” reflects the beginning and end of everyday we experience in our lives. Hayley states, “Every day is a new opportunity to make decisions for yourself. Sometimes our choices are harder than others to make and sometimes by the end of the day, I myself question if I made the right choice. As I transition into life after college, I constantly question what the next chapter of my life will look like, asking myself “am I prepared for the real world?” However, if there is one thing that my Nana taught me growing up was that everyday is a fresh start, you’ll make mistakes the day before but when you wake up in the morning it’s the start of a new day, the world is at your feet.”


Improvisation by Elizabeth Hayes
Elizabeth Hayes, Graduate Assistant for Dance and the Audience

“I have always been fascinated with creative processes. I love creating in new ways and working with others. Performances are so finished and the audience doesn’t get to see the process. Well, until now. Use the QR code to let me know how I should dance today!” This dance is to collaborate with the audience and to involve them in the choreographic process. “Dance and choreography are integral parts of my life. Dance is not my hobby or job, it is my lifestyle,” Elizabeth states.


Choreographed by Elizabeth Hayes
Advanced Jazz, Musical Theatre, Tap, Hip Hop and Contemporary Dance Classes
Featured Dancers: Kenzie Coester, Treva Neathery, Dani Torgler, *Mattie Vacca

Elizabeth Hayes grew up in Pittsburg, KS involved in dance and theater. She graduated from K-State with a major in Art and minors in Dance and Mass Communication. She co-directed her first dance show at K-State while also working at a local dance studio and teaching camps for UDA. Upon graduating, Elizabeth became the Director of the Y Academy of Dance and has won dance competition titles for highest scoring routines as well as awards for choreography. She is the Assistant Coach for the PSU Crimson and Gold Dance Team, the Head Coach for the St. Mary’s Colgan Dance Team and will be choreographing for Pittsburg Community Theater in the summer. She has done freelance choreography for K-State Dance Minor and has presented dance classes and choreography at the American College Dance Association. “I absolutely love the atmosphere and students at Pittsburg State University. Teaching dance here has been such a blessing and I am so inspired by our students.”
This casino-meets-Lady-Gaga dance is an upbeat dance that allows both the dancers and the audience members to have fun as we close out the show! This dance includes many dancers that have never performed on a stage before! We are so proud of their courage to dance at this performance.

Research Titles and Presenters

  • Dancing in Kindergarten by *Kassi Burns
  • The Mental Health Benefits of Dance by *Kassandra Lewis
  • Prosthetics in Dance by *Halee Harpenau
  • Stories to Move You: Non-static Read-Alouds to Incorporate Dance by *Neal Zoglmann
  • Boot Scoot and Boogie at PSU by *Makayla Pilcher
  • Step Into the Light: The Effect Lighting Has on Confidence and Performance by *Alyssa Strader
  • Golden Gorillas Gettin’ Groovy by Chandler Wortman, Jessica Jones, Zoey Harvey, Madie Steed and Laura Covert-Miller
  • Marginalized @ War: Modifying Movement Series Art by Des Bridgeman
  • Dance For Athletes by *Anna Holman and David Boffey
  • Effects of Dance on Memory and Mood by Laila Berkey
  • Giselle by Rosemary Stapleton
  • Testing and Improving Balance by Karissa Winkel, Lindsay Shippy, Hannah Chastain and Brett Wiemers
  • The Significance of Dance in Latin Cultures by *Jordan Haworth

*denotes Dance Minor Student

Special Thanks

  • All Performers
  • Bicknell Family Center for the Arts
  • Shawna Witherspooon
  • Jon Eastman
  • Joe Firman
  • Andra Stefanoni
  • John Oppliger
  • Susan Downing
  • Halee Harpenau
  • Alyx VanRheen
  • Phi Eta Sigma
  • Tommy Ayers
  • Ashley Atkinson
  • Rion Huffman
  • Gamma Epsilon Tau
  • PSU Printing Services
  • Breonna Goodwin
  • Karissa Winkel
  • Shelby Hutchens
  • Mckennah Ring
  • Megan Westhoff
  • Pitt State Theatre
  • Raul Munguia
  • SEK Symphony
  • Edward Wagoner
  • Gregor Kalan
  • Clayton Kent