Dance Showcase features community and campus performers 

Community, Collaboration and Courage is the theme of the 3rd Annual Dance Showcase at PSU, and the list of more than 60 performers and their approach supports that theme perfectly. It will be held on April 12 in the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts and is free and open to the public. 

Hosted by the Minor in Dance program at PSU, it will feature community members as well as students from a range of majors and is directed by Professor Janice Jewett. The performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Linda & Lee Scott Performance Hall.  

Prior to the performances, a symposium featuring research and informative displays created by students and related to dance topics will be held starting at 5:30 in the lobby and also is open to the public. 

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Among the many performers: 

Yung-Rou, Ko (Zoe Ke), an exchange student from Taiwan who studied ballet as a child will perform “Copellia Variation,” a classical ballet based on a story by E.T.A. Hoffmann entitled “The Sandman,” published in 1815 and choreographed by Marius Petipa. 

“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. I chose this dance because it displays a lot of emotional expressions, and I am interested in playing this role in the dance,” she said. 


Mackenna Fountain, Halee Harpenau, Carissa Marrone, Makayla Pilcher, Alyssa Strader, and Clarissa Worley will perform “It Needed to Be Said,” choreographed by graduate student Elizabeth Hayes. 

"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,” she said. 


Dani Torgler, a senior with a double major in Psychology and Human Resource Development, will perform “Turning Page.” She has been dancing for 12 years and has been a member of the Pitt Dance Team for three years. 

“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,” she said. 


Alyssa Strader, a junior majoring in Psychology, will perform “A Song Like You,” a dance about leaving an unhealthy relationship that she choreographed with Jordan Belcher. She has been dancing for 15 years competitively in studios and schools and is currently minoring in dance.  

“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,” she said. 


Halee Harpenau, a junior majoring in Recreation Services, Sport and Hospitality Management, will perform “Rhythm From The Other Side.” She grew up dancing and at age 15, began traveling the country for various tap festivals and workshops to gain more knowledge. For four years, she has been a cast member of a national tap company based in Phoenix.  

“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,” she said. 

Harpenau and her mother Jeana Harpenau, a longtime dance teacher, also will perform a number for her father. 


Kassie Burns, a sophomore majoring in Elementary Education, will perform “Burn,” a song that tells the story of Eliza Hamilton burning the letters from her husband when she loses the ability to trust him. It’s a dance she choreographed herself.  

Burns has been dancing since age 3 and hopes to incorporate dance into her classroom when she becomes a teacher. 


Kassandra Lewis, a sophomore majoring in Nursing, will perform “Anytime,” which expresses someone being there throughout the struggles someone else may encounter. She has danced for 15 years and is a member of the PSU Dance Team. 

“As the 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. 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,” she said. 


Mattie Vacca and Liv Golden, a freshman majoring in Elementary Education Unified and a freshman majoring in Nursing, will perform “Other Side,” which symbolizes their support for each other over the past year. They are both members of the PSU Dance Team. 


Jordan Haworth, a sophomore majoring in Biology and Spanish, will perform “Merry Go Round of Life.” She has been dancing since she was 13 and is the featured twirler at Pitt State. She earned 3rd place at baton twirling nationals in 2022 for this routine. 

 “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,” she said. 


Yana Feldman, instructor, will perform “Diana Variation from Diana and Acteon,” choreographed by Agrippina Vaganova. The dance is a classical variation of the story of the Roman goddess of the hunt, Diana — an epitome of courage and strength. 

“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,” she said. 


Hayley Monday, a senior majoring in Interior Design with a minor in Construction Technology, will perform “Sun,” a dedication to her best friend, her nana. She has been dancing since age 6 and has been a part of the PSU dance program for four years. 

“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. If there is one thing that my nana taught me growing up, it was that each day 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 and the world is at your feet,” she said.  


Elizabeth Hayes has choreographed “Jackpot,” a casino-meets-Lady-Gaga style dance that will allow the dancers and the audience members to have fun as the show closes. It will be performed by students in the Advanced Jazz, Musical Theatre, Tap, Hip Hop, and Contemporary Dance Classes. 

Hayes has been director of the YMCA Academy of Dance, is the assistant coach for the PSU Dance Team, is the head coach for St. Mary’s Colgan Dance Team, and will be choreographing for Pittsburg Community Theatre this summer. 

“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,” she said.  

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Other performers: 

Other performers include Clarissa Worley, Skylar Weers, Jenna Herrstrom, Emily Burke, Kolbeigh Green, Rylea Harris, Anna Holmes, Lexi McGowen, Lindsay Pruett, Nayeli Ramirez, Kayla Rosche, Paige Wilbert, Annika Anzjon, Kenzie Coester, Kaytie Frisch, Megan Guthrie, Treva Neathery, Lexi Brodrick, Olivia Sanders, Debbie Thomas, and Aichatou Agbere. 

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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