Since its inception in the 70s, the dance program at Williams has been a home to many students. Every now and then, a member of the dance department continues to study the performing arts in a professional capacity. They are good resources, and love talking about their experience and their growth as performing artists.
The following alumni/ae are just a small sample of those who have come through the dance department at Williams. For a full list, visit the Williams College Alumni Directory, a searchable database of alumni/ae with class year, career, and contact information.
Kimerer LaMothe ’85
Kimerer LaMothe, PhD is a dance artist, philosopher, playwright, and scholar of religion. She is an award-winning author of six books, numerous articles on dance, movement, philosophy, and religion, and over a hundred blog posts for Psychology Today. She has created and performed two solo dance concerts, both premiered at Harvard University; seven variety shows; and a song cycle corresponding to ideas in her fifth book, Why We Dance: A Philosophy of Bodily Becoming (Columbia University Press, 2015). She also wrote the book, lyrics, and music for two musicals, including Happy If Happy When, a show based on the story of her family’s move to a farm, performed to date by her partner and their five children. The family released a cast album in November 2019. At Williams, LaMothe took part in the Freshman Revue. She thoroughly enjoyed winter study intensives with Marta Renzi and with Blondell Cummings, as well as classes in ballet, modern, and jazz during the last two years of Joy Dewey’s tenure, and, happily, the first year and a half of Sandra Burton’s. After Williams, LaMothe danced professionally in three modern dance companies, before earning her doctorate in religious studies from Harvard University, with a dissertation on Martha Graham. She has received fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the Harvard Center for the Study of World Religions, and the Lower Regional Adirondack Arts Council; and serves as a consultant, lecturer, workshop leader, and choreographer for colleges and universities, dance companies, and secondary schools. www.kimererlamothe.com. www.happyifhappywhen.com.
Julia Foulkes ’86
Julia Foulkes taught courses at the New School University in New York City in 20th century U.S. history. She received her Ph.D. in history at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and her book on the development of modern dance in America is forthcoming from the University of North Carolina Press. In February 2001, she was an onscreen commentator and consultant for “Free to Dance,” a PBS documentary, which traces the history of African Americans in dance. She was a Rockefeller Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College Chicago in 1997-98.
Erica Dankmeyer ’91
Erica Dankmeyer, artistic director, dancer, choreographer, and teacher, began her ballet training with Paul Curtis and Anna Bena in California. She studied Modern and African dance at Williams, where she returns annually as a guest artist. Ms. Dankmeyer has been a member of the Martha Graham Dance Company since 1996, has performed in many Graham ballets, such as the Woman in Yellow in Diversion of Angels. Dankmeyer has choreographed works for herself and for members of the Graham Company and Ensemble, which have been presented around the United States. She is on the faculty of the Martha Graham School and has taught at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theater, Williams College, and Marymount Manhattan College.
Sarah Peterson ’91
Sarah graduated Williams in 1991 (Theater and History major), and was involved with Dance Company throughout her time here (as well as some Kusika). After graduating, she worked in arts management for three years (City Lights Youth Theater, and Alliance for the Arts), and then went to Yale for her MBA. She expected to carry on in the arts (after a summer internship at Lincoln Center), but pivoted based on a class project where she moderated a focus group and became so intrigued that she went to work for the professor’s firm. Since that time, she has stayed in the insights/marketing field and is currently a partner the magnetic collective. She has stayed loosely involved with the arts in all the time she has lived in NYC – taking dance classes intermittently (lately with Ronald K Brown) and traveling to Senegal to study dance (inspired by Chuck Davis’ workshops). She went through an improv comedy phase and performed with a group called Gotham Underground and is now volunteering with DreamStreet, which works with developmentally disabled adults to explore the performing arts. Dance has never been her main thing, but it’s always been there for her as a vital undercurrent. Her dance friends are still some of her closest Williams connections, and she regularly thinks of Sandra and her inspiration.
Jae Greunke ’92
Jae Greunke began her dance training at Williams (where she majored in literary studies) and through a cross-enrollment program at Bennington College. Upon graduating from Williams in 1992, she was awarded a Hutchinson Fellowship, which allowed her to move to New York and further her training. She has performed with a wide range of downtown choreographers, including 3-D Dance/Blue Man Group, JoAnna Mendl Shaw, Neo Labos Dance Theatre, Vera Huff, and Gotham Group Dance. She is currently dancing with Sarah Skaggs Dance and Ben Munisteri. Greunke is also the owner of Intelligent Exercise Personal Training, through which she works as a personal trainer/somatic educator. Her writing on dance and movement has appeared in the Village Voice, American Dance, and on IndiePlanet.com. She is currently training to become a Feldenkrais practitioner.
Rachel Watts ’97
Rachel Watts is a multidisciplinary arts educator focused on creating meaningful and equitable programming for young people. She is currently the Director of Teen Programs and DEI Initiatives at ArtsConnection Inc. She has held positions as Director of Education at Ballet Hispanico in New York City and Director of the MYC Youth Center in San Rafael, California. Her introduction to non-profit Arts Education was in the education department at The Studio Museum in Harlem. She graduated from Williams as a Contract Major focused on the arts and culture of the Caribbean. While at Williams, she was a member of Kusika and the Williams College Dance Company. She received the Hubbard Hutchinson award at graduation which allowed her to attend the Urban Bush Women Summer Dance Institute and helped her transition out of college. Her Masters Degrees is from NYU in Latin American and Caribbean Studies with a concentration in Museum Studies. She also studied Visual Art at the Edna Manley School of the Arts in Jamaica, and Modern and West African dance with Noble Douglas in Trinidad, at Emerson College and of course with Sandra burton in the dance department at Williams. www.rachelwattsarts.com.
Denise Connor ’99
At Williams, Denise was a member of Kusika and Dance Company, where she had the opportunity to perform and choreograph new works. She spent a summer in college interning with Sandra Burton to help organize a Berkshire Tap Dance Festival, and continued working in the arts after graduation as an education intern at Jacob’s Pillow, followed by volunteer work with ArtsConnection in New York City, where she got to help teach dance classes for kids in NYC public schools. After a few years working in New York, Denise felt the pull to medicine, and ultimately attended medical school at the University of Pennsylvania—she relocated with her husband Earle, a fellow Williams alum, to San Francisco for residency at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and has been there ever since. They have two wacky and wonderful children who infuse lots of joy, improv, and living room dance parties into everyday life.
Denise is now an Associate Professor of Medicine at UCSF, with her clinical home in the Faculty Hospital Medicine Division at the San Francisco VA. She is Associate Program Director of the PRIME pathway for Internal Medicine residents, an area of distinction that fosters expertise in the research and clinical domains, while also exposing trainees to a broad range of professional development opportunities. Her scholarly work focuses on designing curricula to teach clinical reasoning with the aim of encouraging life-long self-improvement in reasoning, and encouraging humility and patient-centeredness in the diagnostic process. In addition to leading a clinical reasoning curriculum in PRIME, Denise is also Director of the Diagnostic Reasoning Block, a novel capstone course on diagnosis for pre-clerkship medical students. Denise pairs her interest in reasoning with a focus on promoting diversity, equity and inclusion within medical education. Reducing bias in clinical decision making is fundamental to her interest in reasoning, and she is proud to work with a diverse patient population at the SFVA, a vital part of San Francisco’s safety net. She was recently named the Gold-Headed Cane Endowed Teaching Chair in Internal Medicine, and she will be exploring the intersection of reasoning, communication, and diversity, with an eye toward how to better teach students and trainees about these interconnected domains.
Mayda del Valle ’00
Mayda Del Valle hails from Chicago’s South Side, where she began performing her own writing while in high school. She relocated to New York City in October of 2000, after graduating from Williams with a B.A. in art. One of del Valle’s first stops was the legendary Nuyorican Poets Cafe. In spite of never having performed poetry competitively, she won the Nuyorican’s Grand Slam Championship and went on to the National Poetry Slam in Seattle in August of 2001. There she won the Individual National Poetry Slam title and became the first poet from the Nuyorican, the youngest poet and the first Latina to win the title. Del Valle was featured on the HBO series “Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry.” She has also been featured in El Diario, Urban Latino, Mass Appeal, and The New York Times. She has performed at NYU, Columbia University, UT Austin, USC, the Public Theater and Joe’s Pub, and recently showcased a one-woman show at the HERE Arts Center in New York City.
Will Rawls ’00
Will Rawls is a performer, independent choreographer, and curator based in New York City. His work has appeared at Dance Theater Workshop, Danspace Project, Dixon Place, the Brooklyn Museum, ISE Cultural Foundation, and Mount Tremper Arts. Since 2006, Rawls has collaborated with Kennis Hawkins as the performance art duo, Dance Gang. He has performed with Shen Wei Dance Arts, Noemie LaFrance, nicholasleichterdance, Katie Workum, Neal Medlyn and David Neumann/advanced beginner group. In 2010, Rawls was an interpreter in Tino Sehgal’s “This Progress” at the the Guggenheim Museum, New York, and re-performed works by Marina Abramovic at the Museum of Modern Art. Rawls is a guest artist at Bard College and a student mentor for Colorado College’s department of drama and dance.
Robert Michelin ’03
At Williams, Robert Michelin graduated with a B.A. in Economics and African-American Studies. He participated in both the Kusika and Zambezi Marimba band ensembles, serving as the director of the Zambezi Marimba band as well. After graduating, he continued his studies with Ethnomusicology, receiving a MMus, Math Education, receiving an MS, and School Leadership, receiving an MA. He has come back to visit Williams as a visiting lecturer.
Veroneque Ignace ’15
At Williams, Veroneque studied Chemistry but made her way to becoming an Honors Dossier student in African Studies. She danced in Kusika and the combination of these served as the foundation of the work that she is doing now as a performance artist, public health practitioner, Haitian feminist theorist, and participatory arts researcher. After graduating in 2015, she used the Hubbard Hutchinson Fellowship she received to support her vision to complicate methods to social change and health equity, connecting spiritual balance and self-understanding to modes of recovery and restoration. She founded Kriyol Dance! Collective, a Brooklyn-based platform for research, community action and wellness using dance, music, and spoken word. From 2016-2017, she went on to complete a Master of Public Health at SUNY Downstate School of Public Health, and present both nationally and internationally on dance practice and health intervention; she continues to write research and strategy as an Assistant Strategist for Betty’s Daughter Arts Collaborative from 2017 to the present. In 2018, she also began her current project of actively building an archive for Lakou Societe St. Michel Archange, an over 140-year-old cultural hub and spiritual temple in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. If you would like to connect, please reach out at veronequeigace.com.
Sankofa Alum on Sankofa
Funmi Olosunde ‘06: “Sankofa allows me to be the instrument as opposed to dancing to musical instruments. You are the music and you are making the music with your hands and your feet. Through Sankofa you are utilizing your body to be the music and to make the rhythm.”
Gape Machao ‘06: “Sankofa is a family. It is a place where I can go to relax, forget about all the academic stress and pressures and hang out with people I work with. It is also a place for creativity where we can create something extraordinary out of nothing. Having this place means a lot to me.”