Mercyhurst University

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A classical ballet program rooted in a traditional liberal arts setting, we strive to make an impact on the survival of high quality ballet and the building of future leaders for the arts in this country. 

We take pride in our accreditation with the National Association of Schools of Dance.

Have some questions? See if we ansewered them in the Dance FAQ's

A degree from Mercyhurst prepares you for this exciting and dynamic career.

Major(s) Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A)-Dance
  Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)-Dance
Concentration(s) Dance Major with Pedagogy Concentration
Other Program(s) Arts Management Minor
  Returning Professional
  Organization Leadership


Ready to begin your journey in dance?  Apply online today -- it's free and getting your application started takes only a few brief minutes.  Interested students may also consult the course catalog for more information.  As a liberal arts institution, all undergraduate students complete Mercyhurst's core curriculum


Past performances:



News from alum Donna Russo ‘81:




The Dance Department's mission is to generate leadership for the dance field, through rigorous B.A. and B.F.A. programs emphasizing the development of professional dancers, teachers, choreographers and scholars through cognitive, affective, and psychomotor taxonomies. The Dance Department's vision is to proliferate the art of dance while promoting excellence in leadership for the field.

mercyhurst dancers Goals:

  • To generate creative leaders who pay tribute to the past, strive for the highest standards of excellence and proactively collaborate to celebrate and serve their communities whilst moving the dance field forward.
  • To cultivate empowerment through vigorous involvement in a progressive curriculum grounded in classical and contemporary ballet supported by diverse dance disciplines, theoretical and somatic studies.
  • To prepare confident artists who recognize and apply the transferable learning and knowledge embedded in dance to coalesce with developed critical thinking, writing and oral expertise as support to all of their life choices.
  • To nurture compassionate and balanced human beings who hold sacred the honor of body, mind and spirit for themselves and others. 


  • Demonstrate a high level of technical mastery in ballet and/or other dance disciplines
  • Identify a significant body of theoretical &historical knowledge pertaining to the dance field
  • Produce & present work by confronting professional problems through analysis, experimentation & development of coherent goals evident in scholarly & creative presentations
  • Recognize & assess positive approaches to mental & physical health, professional theatrical aesthetic & an injury-free work ethic

Performance Ensembles

 Booking Information

The Mercyhurst University Dance Department is pleased to connect our faculty and our performing ensembles with the community. We will tailor our presentation to your venue, needs and interests offering presentations such as:

  • Performances
  • Lecture demonstrations
  • Workshops
  • Seminars
  • Outreach
  • School performances
  • And more...

Our fees are reasonable, and vary upon ensemble choice, program length and content. Revenues directly support scholarships and departmental programming.  For more information, contact Tauna Hunter, Dance Department Chair, at 814-824-2587.



Our goal is to generate leadership for the dance field while striving to maintain high integrity ballet in our community through performance and service outreach with our multiple dance ensembles. 


2017-2018 Performance Season

The Mercyhurst Dance Department strives to make an impact on the survival of high-quality ballet and the building of future leaders in the arts. Experience the culmination of the students' creative exploration and discovery as performers and choreographers.

Guys and Dolls

Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center

Thursday, November 02, 2017 - 7:30 pm 
Friday, November 03, 2017 - 7:30 pm 
Saturday, November 04, 2017 - 7:30 pm 
Sunday, November 05, 2017 - 2:00 pm 
Based on the story and characters by Damon Runyon
Music and lyrics by Frank Loesser
Book by Abe Burrows and Jo Swerling
Directed by Dr. Brett D. Johnson
Choreographed by Mark Santillano
Considered by many to be the perfect musical comedy, Guys and Dolls is about rolling the dice and falling in love under the bright lights of Broadway. Desperate for funds to secure a venue for his illicit gambling enterprise, Nathan Detroit offers high roller Sky Masterson what he thinks is a safe bet. Can Sky take any doll Nathan cares to name on a date to Havana, Cuba? Surely not if the “doll” Nathan chooses is strait-laced Sergeant Sarah Brown of the Save-a-Soul Mission. But it turns out that hearts are at stake in this game as well as souls — and where love’s concerned, there’s no telling how the dice will land.

Adult: $15
Senior: $10
MU student (with ID): $5

’Tis the Season

Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center

Friday, December 01, 2017 - 4:30 pm 
Friday, December 01, 2017 - 8:00 pm 
Saturday, December 02, 2017 - 11:00 am 
Saturday, December 02, 2017 - 3:00 pm 
This holiday season bring your family together for a unique holiday festivity that combines seasonal sacred dance and music, along with the tradition of The Nutcracker. Our community partner, LECOM/LifeWorks Erie, a unique organization providing opportunities for successful aging, joins with The Mercyhurst Dancers for this event.

All seats are $5

Water Dance

TBA Erie Locations

Sat, April 14, 4pm
Part of National Water Dance, “The Ripple Effect” integrates environmental advocacy with the arts through a performance of colorful movements reflecting Erie’s nautical environment, led by Mercyhurst dance faculty member Solveig Santillano. Poetry, film, live music and a lecture on environmental preservation by Amy Parente, associate professor of chemistry at Mercyhurst, will follow at the H.O. Hirt Auditorium in the Blasco Library.
The advocacy component of this event is organized by the Mercyhurst University Chemistry Department in collaboration with the Hafenmaier College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences in partnership with various community organizations.

This is a FREE event.

Raw Edges

Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center

Friday, April 20, 2018 - 7:00 pm 
Saturday, April 21, 2018 - 2:00 pm 
Saturday, April 21, 2018 - 7:00 pm 
Sunday, April 22, 2018 - 2:00 pm 
In its 20th year, Raw Edges is a Mercyhurst dance tradition highlighting the premiere work of emerging artists. Intermission includes “Talk Back” sessions, which offer an opportunity to hear our emerging artists discuss their artistic processes.  
*On Friday, Apr. 20, the gala performance includes a pre-performance reception benefiting SafeNet and the Jenni-Lyn Watson Memorial Scholarship Fund. 

Adults: $15
Seniors/Students: $10
Youth (12 and under) and Mercyhurst Students (with ID): $5

Please visit our MIAC site for more information

Social Media and Photo Gallery

For more multimedia material, check out the Mercyhurst University Dance Department's Facebook, Twitter, blog, or Pinterest.


Faculty Image for 
C. Noelle Partusch
C. Noelle Partusch, M.F.A.
Associate Professor
Faculty Image for 
Lesley Bories-Scalise
Lesley Bories-Scalise
Artist in Residence
Faculty Image for 
Mark Santillano
Mark Santillano, M.A.
Assistant Professor
Faculty Image for 
Michael Gleason
Michael Gleason, B.A.
Concurrent Faculty and Production Mgr./Resident Designer
Faculty Image for 
Nathaniel Johnson
Nathaniel Johnson
Adjunct Faculty
Faculty Image for 
Solveig Santillano
Solveig Santillano, M.F.A., M.A.
Associate Professor
Faculty Image for 
Tauna Hunter
Tauna Hunter, M.F.A
Professor, Chairperson