Dance

Deerfield’s comprehensive dance program provides training in modern, jazz, ballet, pointe, hip-hop, and contemporary dance techniques as well as instruction in the craft of choreography and improvisation. Classes are tailored to meet the needs of all experience levels from complete beginners to pre-professional dancers. There are opportunities to perform in and choreograph for dance concerts that are presented each of our three terms.

 

Opportunities within Deerfield’s dance program are supplemented by an extensive series of performances and master classes by such outstanding dance companies as Alvin Ailey, Momix, Ballet Chicago and David Parsons. Additionally, each year the works of distinguished guest choreographers are commissioned for dancers in the program. There is also a coaching program that provides private and semi-private instruction for all styles of dance and for dancers of all experience levels.

Core Dance Faculty

Jennifer Whitcomb

Director of Dance

Jennifer Whitcomb earned her B.F.A. in Dance and Education from Sarah Lawrence College in 1981. She attended the Effort/Shape Certification Program at the Laban Institute of Movement Studies during her junior year of college. Upon graduating she returned to Boston where she performed with Boston Dance Collective and the Massachusetts Dance Ensemble, and taught dance and creative movement in public schools. In 1987 she moved to Western Massachusetts and received her State Dance Teacher Certification from the University of Massachusetts. She founded Deerfield’s dance program in 1989 and she has directed it for the past thirty-three years. Ms. Whitcomb is also a certified Purusha Pilates/ Yoga teacher.

Carrie Towle

Ballet Specialist, Choreographer and Private Coach

Carrie Towle grew up and did her early training in Vermont at the Brattleboro School of Dance. She studied with the Boston School of Ballet, the New York School of Ballet, and was a dance major at SUNY Purchase. She pursued her love for teaching while dancing with the New Mexico Ballet by teaching at the NMB School, as well as throughout Albuquerque. Carrie has been teaching children, teens, and adults for 35 years and has honed her pedagogy through teaching extensively in VT and MA. Her teaching credits include: Marlboro College, the Brattleboro School of Dance, the Career Center Dance Program at BUHS, the Stoneleigh Burnham School, Kelly’s Dance Academy, Vermont Academy, The Ballet School at Bement (where she was also the director), and Deerfield Academy since 2001. In addition to teaching, Carrie has choreographed extensively and loves to set work on her students. Carrie holds a MA in Counselor Education from the University of NM and resides in VT with her three children.

Meg Van Dyck

Dance Instructor and Choreographer

Meg Van Dyck has taught Dance and Pilates at Deerfield Academy, Greenfield Community College, Stoneleigh Burnham, and at many community dance schools for over 25 years. She received her B.A. in Dance from Smith College and has performed with Dodge Dance Company, Sorvino Dance Project, Chaos Theory Dance, Lori Holmes Clark Dance Company, and Luminz Dance Theater. She has also served as Artistic Director for dance companies; Quantum Dance Collective and The Giggle Water Girls. Her choreography has been featured at the Academy of Music, Iron Horse, Pearl Street, Look Park, Green River Music Festival, New England Performing Arts Center, Shea Theater, Massachusetts/Vermont Dance Festivals, and on the Fuse Music Video Television Channel.

Stephanie Shumway

Dance Instructor, Choreographer and Private Coach

Stephanie Shumway grew up in Amherst, MA and started her dance training at the age of 3 in jazz, tap, ballet, lyrical and hip-hop. When she was 14, she took a deep interest in ballet and began training at East Street Ballet, under the direction of Noble and Ruth Barker. At age 15 she was accepted into the Boston Ballet Summer Dance Program, where she was able to train and perform with some of the Boston Ballet company members. Upon excelling in her early ballet career, Stephanie had the opportunity to work with some of today’s well known choreographers and instructors like, Director of Boston Ballet Mikko Nissinen, Jennifer Glaze, Margaret Tracey, Katrina Killian, Carlos Molina, and Tamara King. Stephanie has performed numerous pieces and variations from Coppelia, The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Bluebird, Napoli, Serenade and many more. Stephanie started teaching and choreographing at the age of 16, in all styles of dance. She has been a faculty member at Deerfield Academy since 2010. Stephanie’s teaching style is incredibly enthusiastic, yet very demanding on precision and correct body alignment. In 2019, she became certified in levels 1-3 of the Vaganova Syllabus. In the same summer, Stephanie attended the Dance Teacher Summit in Long Beach, California, where she worked with some of todays most sought out teachers and choreographers in the dance industry. In 2020, she became a certified T-Spheres Injury Prevention Teacher. On her down time away from the studio, she works as a Licensed Massage Therapist in MA. Stephanie incorporates both of her passions by helping her dancers and clients improve their bodies through her knowledge of the human anatomy, stretching and strengthening.

Minh Sullivan

Dance Instructor and Choreographer

Minh Sullivan is a teaching artist currently based in the Western Mass region, where she inspires her students to find confidence in authentically expressing themselves through movement, and makes space for all who wish to move their bodies. Minh holds a BFA from The Boston Conservatory at Berklee, and is also an alumna of Pioneer Valley Performing Arts High School where she performed with Catalyst Dance Company under the direction of Jennifer Polins. Minh has trained at The Hackworth School of Performing Arts in her hometown of Easthampton, MA, and at the Massachusetts Academy of Ballet, under Charles and Rose Flachs. She has spent summers at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and with the L.A.-based company BODYTRAFFIC, and trained with Marcus Schukland, Tai Jimenez, Kurt Douglas, Brian Mcginnis, and Joy Davis. Minh has performed repertoire by Azure Barton, Bill T. Jones, Jose Limon, Dam Van Hyunh, Summation Dance Company, James Morrow, Shakia Johnson, and others. Minh believes dance is a way of life that can be used to heal, connect, challenge, and advance the human experience. She became a Deerfield Academy faculty member in 2022.

Madeleine Bonn

Ballet Instructor

Madeleine Bonn began her classical ballet training at the age of 2 at the Royal Academy of Dance in California, and continued at the San Francisco Ballet on full-scholarship, where she was a recipient of the Rosalie Helman Merit Award for outstanding achievement. Her background includes the Vaganova method, Balanchine technique, Bournonville, Spanish/Russian character dance, modern, contemporary, and neo-classical. She was a principal dancer with José Mateo Ballet Theatre in Cambridge, MA, for 14 years and has also performed abroad in Romania and Mongolia. Bonn holds a teaching certification from American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum, and received an award from the Amherst Cultural District for her choreography in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. At Amherst Ballet, Madeleine serves as the Artistic Director and ensures the advancement of the overall artistic and dance education mission of the school. She also teaches all levels of ballet while being in charge of producing annual performances. As a teacher, Bonn focuses on fostering confidence and self-esteem in her students, encouraging them to find their own voices through experimentation, music appreciation, phrasing, classical technique, and artistic expression. Madeleine became a faculty member at Deerfield Academy in 2022.

Rachel Hebert

Ballet Instructor and Choreographer

Rachel Hebert began at the Moving Company in Keene, New Hampshire and at the Brattleboro School of Dance with Kathleen Keller where she trained for a total of fourteen years. She has trained in summer intensives at the Rock School, The Pittsburgh Ballet Theater School, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, and Burklyn Ballet Theater. She participated in the Windham Regional Career Center Performing Arts Dance Program while attending Brattleboro Union High School. From there she continued her training with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater School Pre Professional Program, Point Park University, and The Ailey School. She currently enjoys creating and setting new works of choreography, and bringing the art of ballet to her students.

Karen St. Pierre

Costume Designer

Karen St.Pierre is the Costume Designer and Craft Artisan responsible for designing all the costumes for Deerfield’s Dance and Theatre productions. She brings to D.A. years of experience in the theatre, film, and the television industry. Karen received her honors undergraduate degree in Fiber Arts from Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston. Karen is the recipient of numerous art awards including the Marie Walsh Sharpe Scholarship, The Stephen D. Paine Scholarship, Massachusetts College of Art and Design Presidents Award, Vice Magazine Rising Artist Spotlight 2002, and The L.A. Ovation Awards nomination for Best Musical in 2016. Recently Karen has worked on large-scale productions for Hollywood Studios such as Miramax and Sony Pictures as an on-set costumer. She has also designed and built for premier regional theatres on both East and West coast, advertising campaigns, Cannes Film Festival and with the Artist Earth, Wind and Fire to name a few. Karen believes that costume design is a vital art form that is a means of communication. Karen doesn’t confine herself to any particular area of art or fashion as she sees it all as inspiration. She loves the opportunity and challenge of designing for Dance and Theatre in the realm of visual art and where these ideas can transport our imaginations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Before they enter Deerfield, all new students are required to take a math placement test to determine an appropriate class. Students who have already taken a language they wish to continue studying at Deerfield will take a placement test to determine what level class they should take. If the placement in either department is deemed inappropriate after the student arrives, then the section teacher may suggest a change of level. Students may also request such a change and should consult with their teacher and their academic advisor before contacting the Dean of Studies.

Study abroad is available to all students from their sophomore to senior years, although typically students who choose to go abroad will do so during their junior year.

In order to garner Honors distinction a student must have a cumulative term average above 90.0%. High Honors requires an average of 93.0% or above. Exemplary students with a grade point average of 92.0 or higher may qualify for admission to the Cum Laude Society, a national honor society. 

Because of its commitment to rigorous academics, Deerfield offers a wide range of accelerated and Advanced Placement courses. All of Deerfield’s classes are appropriately challenging, but AP and accelerated courses provide an extra challenge for ambitious students.

All students are assigned a faculty advisor at the beginning of their time at Deerfield. After their first year students may choose a new advisor, or continue with their original one, depending on the relationships they have developed with Deerfield’s faculty. Advisors are responsible for submitting course requests and writing an advisor report every term. They are available for any questions a student may have and are involved in every major academic or athletic decision a student makes while at Deerfield. In addition, faculty eat lunch with their advisees every Thursday and may schedule outside events for their advisees. Advisors are a key component of the Deerfield experience, as they provide guidance and friendship to students throughout their time at Deerfield.

The Pursuit of Excellence Policy states that students may miss up to five class days a year if an unusual and extraordinary opportunity arises, including opportunities in a variety of academic, athletic, and artistic fields. The Academic Affairs Office determines the legitimacy of pursuit of excellence requests on a case-by-case basis.

Contact Academics

academics@deerfield.edu
413-774-1470
Fax 413-772-1128

Boyden Library
Mon–Fri, 8am–4pm

7 Boyden Lane, PO Box 87
Deerfield, MA 01342