Heather Ahern dancer, choreographer, teacher departs Rhode Island to get an MFA in California


Heather responds with shock as
she hears the news that Mayor Cianci
will not run for re-election. 26 June 02


On a sweltering June day- the kind of day that makes grown men moan and eggs fry, seven women climbed the three flights of stairs to the even hotter Groundfloor studio (home of Groundwerx dance) to take the last class Heather Ahern would teach there in quite awhile.

Heather was the sole remaining member of the original Groundwerx dance company. Groundwerx's founder, Donna Meierdiercks relocated to England where she promotes performing artists (in 2002 RI's own elephant jane) while continuing her own dance career. Peter Bramante went to arts administration and teaches at the prestigious Trinity Consortium. Thanks to a RISCA scholarship Cathi Nicoli spent the first part of this year studying in New York City. This summer she performed in England with elephant jane, spent a bit of time in RI and is off to Smith to get her MFA. Heather has departed RI for at least three years to get her MFA at California State University in Long Beach.

And she will be sorely missed. As Heather now turns her energy to expanding her horizon's, she leaves behind a state which has been much improved by her tenure. Her latest performance work (this April at the Carriage House) included the wicked Tough Love and the brilliant solo, Marseilles. Marseilles alone should qualify Heather as one of the country's best, but it's just one of many choreographic/performance feats tucked under her belt. In addition, she has actively sought out other local dancers, choreographers, performance artists, visual artists, engineers (!) and, of course, musicians (most recently Steven Jobe) to work with her in creating art. Her networking with other artists segued into actual arts promotion with the development of the Informal Choreography Showcase (with financial help from RISCA). Originally intended as a gathering of choreographer's where they would view each others' work and help in the dances process, the ICS became the place where audiences, hungry for new and interesting movement forms, went to see what was up. And she ran Groundfloor, an AS220 affiliated dance school located on the third floor above Perishable Theatre. Heather was a kind teacher who worked as well with beginners as with professionals. She was careful to warm up and cool down her dancers - another rarity which along with her wonderful exercises and choreography made her one of RI's best dance teachers (although we are blessed to have quite a few).

The next generation of RI's modern dance is developing rapidly. Two companies, which have grown strong enough to go out in the world, are Heidi Henderson's elephant jane and the even younger Modern Populous, headed by, James Brown, Festival Ballet dancer turned choreographer. Meanwhile the well established Fusionworks seems to have entered an incredibly fertile period attracting very good dancers with its exciting choreography. But Heather's unique perspective, her incredible performance and choreographic abilities and her stong networking skills will be gone. The woman who came to study dance at Roger Williams University almost twenty years ago may or may not return. But to riDance, even three years seems like an awfully long time.

Open Letter from Heather

Deborah Nash at dn@ridance.com
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