The Dance Program, Revitalized by New Faculty: Q&A with Ms. Allesandra Rinaldo


Jerry Sheng ’20

Dancers stretch at the barre before rehearsing.

Ms. Allesandra Rinaldo joined the school in 2018 as an Instructor in Dance.  Following the retirement of Ms. Alice Sarkissian-Wolf, director of the Dance program for 26 years, Ms. Rinaldo has stepped in to teach classes and help lead the Dance Company.

What does a typical Dance Company practice look like?

Dance Company meets five days a week: twice with me, and once with Ms. Lynn Peterson, and twice with the students practicing on their own or completing choreographic assignments. Dance Company consists of a warm-up, components of ballet barre, and then choreography exploring modern/contemporary dance elements as well as improvisational activities.

How many students dance at the school?

There are currently eight dedicated students in the Dance Company, and there seems to be an increase in interest for the winter. I’d like to be able to have Dance Company perform at more events in order to spark interest in other students at Hotchkiss.

In what ways has the dance program been restructured since Ms. Wolf retired?

Currently, the dance program has two different instructors. Ms. Peterson is bringing a specialty in modern dance to the school, and I am incorporating more ballet. I think it’s really great that the students will get to learn about many different dance techniques, as well as learning different pieces of choreography.

As a new instructor, how have you adapted to the school program?

As a new instructor, I am very eager to help the dance department grow and get to know all of the talented students interested in dance. I believe that the Dance Company has been working very hard during our rehearsals, and we are also all enjoying getting to know each other and sharing our love for dance.

What aspects of the curriculum have been modified?

We are trying to keep the curriculum pretty similar, but are adding more of an emphasis on ballet and on learning choreography in different styles of dance.

Do you seek to make any changes to the dance program in the future?

My hope for the dance program is to find other functions for the Dance Company to perform at so [as to] promote the dance department and help spark more interest in the program. I would also love to start a student choreography showcase, so that students can create their own dance pieces and show them off. I am excited to be a part of the dance department and to help the program continue to grow!