Dance Program News

RWU Alumni Dance Festival

By Cathy Nicoli
Poster for Alumni Dance Festival showing four dancers dancing

RWU Alumni Dance Festival
November 5, 12-5pm
RWU Performing Arts Center Dance Studio

Register Here

Alumni, current students – and prospective ones too! Please join the Dance and Performance Studies Program’s 1st Annual Alumni Dance Festival!

Ever wish you could have a family reunion with your past, present, and future dance-family? Well, this is it! This year’s homecoming master classes include: A holistic modern/contemporary warm up, which will set the stage for a collaborative phrase-making workshop. After some snacks and trade chats, we will transition into a hip-hop fundamentals workshop and a group improv finale!

After having their senior year cut-short due to the Covid-19 pandemic shutdown, we are excited to welcome back:

Emily Bartnicki dancingEmily Bartnicki graduated summa cum laude in 2020 from RWU with degrees in Dance/Performance Studies and Political Science. At RWU, she trained in contemporary and modern styles under esteemed faculty and guest artists, including a semester of training in London on RWU’s distinctive Dancing in London program. She has performed in the Brooklyn Dance Festival, American College Dance Association Conference, Salem Arts Festival, various professional company showcases, and more. Currently, she is a company dancer with Project31 and teaches at various dance venues in the New England area. She also works in contract law within the tech industry. 

Meryl Gendreau dancingMeryl Gendreau began dancing at an early age, studying and performing modern dance. At age 17 she began training in hip-hop, traveling overseas to Germany and Croatia for intensives rooted in hip-hop fundamentals. She began directing competitive hip-hop crews at age 20, and now directs her own team, West 1s, out of her studio, Grooves On West, which opened its doors in 2020. Meryl returned to academia to pursue her dance education at RWU, and earned her BA in Dance and Performance Studies. Her credits include dancing backup on film for Duc Anh Tran, and as a principal dancer in Disney’s Hocus Pocus 2. She currently dances for Boston Company N/A, and is a cast member and dance captain in AYO the Show.

Jillian MacLaughlin dancingJillian MacLaughlin is a New Hampshire-grown-Boston-based dancer, singer, performance artist, choreographer and educator. She holds a BA in Dance and Performance Studies from RWU, where she studied modern, contemporary, ballet, and improvisation techniques – along with theory courses in mime, composition, kinesiology and pedagogy. She has had the pleasure of dancing for Natalie Johnson Dance in works including Enduring (2021) and Closing Distance (2022), as well as Lorraine Chapman Dance Company’s Birdie (2021) and Bon Secures (2021). With her creative partner Jenna Gross, Jillian makes work that approaches social commentary through pantomime-inspired comedy under the dance theater title Rose Woods Dance Collaborative.

Jenna GrossJenna Gross is a dancer, choreographer, and multi-media artist from Westford, MA. They have received their BA in Dance and Performance with a minor in Graphic Design Communications from RWU. Jenna has had the pleasure of working with Lorraine Chapman (LCTC) and Natalie Johnson Dance. Their passion for comedy intertwines within their practice by analyzing her childhood, discovering quirky movements, and poking fun at the prestige of dance. Their main choreographic focus is to make serious topics into jokes, and to take jokes seriously. With her creative partner Jillian MacLaughlin, Jenna makes works that approach social commentary through pantomime-inspired comedy under the dance theatre title Rose Woods Dance Collaborative.

We hope to see you soon for this fun day of dance, networking, and trade advice!

For questions, please connect with Professor Cathy Nicoli at

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