Dance Program Highlight
Stockton Dance Company
Featuring Professors Caitlin Pittenger and Beau Hancock
This past semester, Dance faculty Caitlin Pittenger and Beau Hancock, along with seven
students of the Stockton Dance Company, were invited to attend the Palm Springs International
Dance Festival in Palm Springs, California. As performers, Pittenger and Hancock had
shared the stage in the past. Still, the Palm Spring International Dance Festival
was the first time they collaborated as choreographers as they set a piece on the
Nickerson-Rossi Dance Company.
How did this opportunity to attend the Palm Springs International Dance Festival come about?
Professor Beau Hancock teaching at the Palm Springs International Dance Festival
“This opportunity to go to Palm Springs and be a part of the festival was a culmination of years of supporting each other as artists, talking about art and pedagogy,” said Beau Hancock, Assistant Professor of Dance.
Each year Stockton Dance Company hosts an artist-in-residence who spends a week teaching and choreographing in the Stockton Dance program. In January 2022, students in the Stockton Dance Company had the opportunity to work with the Founding Artistic Director of the Nickerson-Rossi Dance Company and the Palm Springs International Dance Festival, Michael Nickerson-Rossi, while the company was in residence at Stockton. During the 2022 residency, Nickerson-Rossi choreographed a piece titled Simpatico with seven dancers from the Stockton Dance Company, which transferred to the Palm Springs International Dance Festival this year.
Caitlin Pittenger, Associate Professor of Dance and Program Chair for the Performing Arts program, said, “Through that relationship, I think he saw the dedication of the faculty and the students and invited us to participate in this festival… to come to work with his dancers, and then for our dancers to perform as well.”
“Not only were we setting this piece on six professional dancers in California,” according
to Hancock, “but we were also teaching as a part of the festival. We were also mentoring
our Stockton students who were performing the piece Michael Nickerson-Rossi had set
on them for the Spring Dance Concert last year, and they were then also able to take
class with other artists in California.”
How do students get involved in opportunities like the Palm Springs International Dance Festival?
Behind the scenes footage of the Nickerson-Rossi Dance Company performing a work choreographed by Professors Caitlin Pittenger and Beau Hancock, and the Stockton Dance Company performing Simpatico, choreographed by Michael Nickerson-Rossi
When discussing the level of student involvement in the festival, Pittenger explained that students are Dance majors and minors who audition for the residency through the Stockton Dance Company.
Hancock added, “The first step in these opportunities is getting involved with dance
at Stockton. That means taking classes. That means considering being a minor or a
major. That means auditioning for the Fall Choreography Project and the Spring Dance
Concert. Being a part of the Spring Dance Concert audition allows you to be seen by
the guest artists coming in, and that's where this came from, a guest artist visiting
How did students benefit from the experience of attending the Palm Springs International Dance Festival?
Pittenger explained, “They're sharing a performance space with professional dancers, and that was a huge benefit for them. And now they can reach out to those dancers, pick their brains, ask them questions, and be connected.”
“There's also important modeling that happens of how those professional dancers handled the performance environment,” Hancock added. “There's less time in a professional performance environment. When we do the Spring Dance Concert, the students are in the theater for a week. The tech rehearsal for this concert in California happened in an afternoon.”
Pittenger and Hancock were proud of the work of the Stockton Dance Company students
attending the festival, who rose to the challenge of working alongside professional
dancers and received positive feedback from audience members.
Simpatico, featuring Stockton Dance Company, choreographed by Michael Nickerson-Rossi
“This experience was simply unforgettable. Learning and being with professional dancers
helped us to make connections and learn what to expect within the professional dance
world. This experience will help us as artists to find a successful path on our own
once we leave the university. I am extremely grateful we were able to have this opportunity!”
Megan Burns (Junior Dance Major – Pre-PT)
“Being able to travel to California to perform in the International Dance Festival
at the Nickerson-Rossi Dance Studio as well as take valuable master classes was a
trip to remember. I was able to connect with professional dancers in the field and
learn a lot from them. It was inspirational to watch the company dancers perform on
stage in the show with us. I am so grateful that we were able to go and participate.”
Adriana Trigiani (Senior Dance Major - Performance)
For more information about Stockton Dance Company performances, and to learn more about the Dance program, visit stockton.edu/dance.
Nickerson-Rossi Dance Company, choreographed by Professors Caitlin Pittenger and Beau Hancock
Photos taken by Taso Papadakis