Iona Arts and Languages’ Fall Dance Symposium engages students in variety of cultural dance styles


Rick Palladino

Sophia Walsh-Newman leads the West African Dance Session during this year’s Symposium.

Joseph Ferrer, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Iona University’s Arts and Languages Department held its annual Fall Dance Symposium for students across two days from Sept. 26 through Sept. 27 in the Murphy Auditorium. Sponsored by the Iona Council on the Fine and Performing Arts’ Dance Program, the event gave students the opportunity to learn and practice different styles of dance and cultures from across the world.   


The event consisted of five different dance showcases with four being held on Monday, Sept. 26, and the last one on Tuesday, Sept. 27.  Each session highlighted a unique cultural dance style with the genres that were showcased ranging from Argentinian Tango and salsa to musical theater jazz and street hip-hop. The individual sessions were led both by Iona Faculty and a variety of accomplished guest artists. SAG-AFTRA actor and choreographer Monica Delgado led the salsa dance session and helped students learn the unique rhythmic patterns and footwork associated with the style. Dancer Jonathan Lee, who had performed as a backup singer for several Grammy Award winners including Justin Timberlake and Mariah Carey, engaged students in the hip-hop/street dance session. Educator and American Ballet Theatre certified teacher Callie Rekas led students in the musical theatre jazz session and emphasized the techniques and dynamisms involved with the far-reaching style. Argentinian flutist and composer Eduardo Tami served as an international guest for the Argentinian Tango dance session. Last but not least, Sophia Walsh-Newman led the West African Dance session using her background as an instructor of dance styles and cultural arts across the Caribbean and Africa.  


Each session highlighted the different techniques and unique choreography work involved with each style as well as their cultural roots and origins. With the event being open to the entire student body, students of all skill levels and proficiencies were encouraged and able to learn from talented instructors that specialized in their own genres. 


Director of the Iona University Arts and Languages Department and curator of the symposium, Dr. Hannah Park, writes on how the event was an opportunity for students to learn more about the unique cultures and styles highlighted during the symposium.  


 “I hope that you will find inspiration and a reason to dance for every minute of this experience,” writes Dr. Park. “Regardless of skill level and experience, I hope you relish the opportunity to participate in this symposium and communal gathering of Gaels through a meaningful, embodied inter-generational experience.”  


The Fall 2022 Dance Symposium highlighted the importance of cultural dance styles and gave students the opportunity to learn more about a variety of different styles through a hands-on, interactive experience.