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Sacred Heart Dancers Take Their Talent to Italy

Dance Company members receive opportunities, awards in Italy

Twelve members of Sacred Heart University’s Dance Company traveled to Italy recently to participate in World Dance Movement—The International Festival, concluding with a performance under the stars alongside elite dancers from more than 25 countries.

The festival’s mission is to build connections between dance and diverse cultures that inspire and transform dancers around the world. Sacred Heart’s dancers trained and performed choreography from an unparalleled international faculty, featuring: Bruno Colinet, Elias Lazaridis, Medhi Walerski, Igal Perry and Macia Del Prete. For five days, each dancer attended three professional choreographic workshops—six hours of intense training per day. Finally, they performed the choreography in an evening event on an outdoor stage at Castellana Grotte, Piazzale Aneli. 

The 12 SHU dancers and University dance department director Kari Williams also had time to tour the towns of Monopoli, Alberobello and Polignano a Mare before they participated in the festival workshops and auditions.

“My experience of the World Dance Movement in Italy was something I will never forget. I became closer to the 11 other SHU company members and was able to meet new dancers from all over the world,” said sophomore Lauren Szczepanowski, of Franklin, MA. “The classes were extremely challenging, and I feel that I grew as a dancer and also as a person through experiencing so many new things.”

Among the events, SHU’s dancers auditioned for International Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL), offered as part of the World Dance Movement (WDM) itinerary. After succeeding through multiple cuts of approximately 100 auditioners performing multiple styles of dance, two SHU sophomore dancers, Olivia Saraceno, of Staten Island, NY and Ryan Solorzano, of Cape Coral, FL, reached the final audition stages. They earned placement in the RCCL roster of entertainers to be called upon for work opportunities as they arise. 

The WDM participants also had the opportunity to audition for one of Italy’s popular TV talent shows, Amici. Lauren Celentano, a former SHU student and newly made Italian celebrity, auditioned during her 2018 visit to Italy with the SHU Dance Company and won first place in the dance category after eight months of arduous competition. During this year’s trip, SHU dancers Solorzano, Szczepanowski and sophomores Katie Kennedy, of Hopewell Junction, NY and Annika Bokor, of Wallkill, NY auditioned for Amici

Directly after the WDM Gala Showcase at the end of the week, three SHU dancers received special awards/scholarships on stage. Szczepanowski received a full scholarship to the Peridance Blueprint Summer Intensive in 2020, Saraceno received one free audition technique seminar at Stage Door Connections in NYC, and sophomore Mary Hughes, of Malverne, NY, received a scholarship for 20 free dance classes at Edge Performing Arts Center in Hollywood, CA.

“My experience at the World Dance Movement was one of the most unforgettable times of my life,” said Hughes. “The talent we were surrounded by was awe-inspiring and motivated me to be a better version of myself.”