Bucks County Herald

Del Val choreographer teaches school’s first dance course



Heather Fleischman has been choreographing Delaware Valley Regional High School’s musicals and coaching its color guard for years. Now she is teaching its first dance course.

When a teacher was sought for Delaware Valley High School’s first class in dance, she was found waiting in the wings for her cue.

Heather Fleischman, Del Val Class of 2006, was already choreographing the musicals and coaching the color guard. Her day job is teaching ballet, tap, lyrical and jazz dance at Showbiz Kidz Dance Center in Lopatcong. She started its modern dance program.

Fifteen students – 12 girls and three boys – are now enrolled in Del Val’s Intro to Dance.

The course is seen as an element of Del Val’s Performing Arts Academy that is being planned. “Academy” is the term educators are using to describe a career-oriented course of study.

The new academy would join Del Val’s Biomedical Science Academy and the Engineering Academy, which were initiated this school year. A Computer Science & Software Engineering Academy began at Del Val in 2015, sponsored by Hunterdon Polytech. But in 2018 it will belong to Del Val.

Fleischman has been dancing since age 3. At Del Val she performed in the musicals’ ensembles until senior year when she was student choreographer for “Hello, Dolly.” She was also a member of the Golden Regiment’s color guard.

She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in dance from DeSales University in Center Valley. A highlight of her college experience was teaching dance to children in the slums of Rio de Janiero.

After college she was a member of two professional dance troupes – MM2 Modern Dance Company of Philadelphia, which toured the U.S., Canada and Italy; and Amanda Selwyn Dance Theatre in New York City.

Back at Del Val, she has choreographed the past five musicals and is in her fifth season as director of the color guard.

Now Fleischman brings to the classroom her enthusiasm, lithe energy and abundant (but not infinite) patience.

Working on the musicals, she has seen that as “the freshmen come into their first musical dance rehearsal, they are very tentative. But, by the time they are in their senior year and belting out that last note, and hitting that last dance step – they are glowing. They have found their confidence. They have found their stride.”

She said, “I want to give that to more of the students at Del Val, that innate excitement and glow. It comes from the students knowing themselves. Ownership and confidence in one's stride can do wonders.”

The curriculum she has devised begins with dance analysis, so students know “what to look for beyond ‘it’s pretty.’” It’s the dance equivalent of art appreciation. The course will also include some choreography, ballet technique, Modern dance technique and history, and improv, challenging students to simulate such things as “moving through molasses” or being a magnet that is variously attracted and repelled by other people who are also magnets.

She wants “this class and classes to come to be an amazing building block for the students and the development of their own choreographic voice and understanding of dance as a whole package – history, philosophy, theory and application.”

For now, the dance class takes place amid the tough-guy décor of the wrestling room. But it will move to the auditorium stage as soon as its renovations are complete. Barres and mirrors have been ordered for use in the new venue.

The final exam will be a piece in the Performing Arts Department’s “Night of Shorts” at the end of the school year.

Tweet



www.buckscountyherald.com

Copyright ©2017 Bucks County Herald, Inc. All rights reserved.