Mentor – Jennifer La Curan

Jennifer La Curan is a choreographer, performer, teacher, lighting designer and producer. Jennifer began her training in Southern California at Orange County Dance Center under the direction of Anthony and Terri Sellars and Keith and Linda Clifton. She then attended Academy of the Performing Arts, performing arts high school, in Huntington Beach under Diane Makas. During this time Jennifer danced with the pre-professional ballet company, Ballet Repertory Theatre where she was a soloist. She also worked with Disneyland as a dancer in their parades and shows department.

Mrs. La Curan then received her BFA in dance from California State University, Long Beach where she trained with Susan McLain, Karen Clippinger, Keith Johnson, Sophie Monat, Andrew Vaca, Sharon Kinney, Della Davidson, Doug Nielson, Alaine Haubert, Judy Allen, and Pat Finot. She then continued her dance studies at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts where is earned her MFA in dance while studying with Gus Soleman Jr., Pamela Pietro, Andrea Wood, Joy Kellman, Jim Martin, Jolinda Menendez, Jim Sutton, Jaclynn Villamil, Cherylyn Lavagnino, Cassandra Phifer, Phyllis Lamhut, Deborah Jowitt, Patricia Beaman, Kathy Grant, and Kay Cummings.

Jennifer began teaching around the tri-state area while still attending graduate school. She later became a member of the Albano Ballet Company of America in Hartford, CT and she was the chairperson of the Children’s Training Division for their school, the Albano Ballet Academy. Jennifer was also dancing for Momentum Dance Theater in New York City and several other independent choreographers. During her tenure in NYC, Mrs. La Curan established her own contemporary dance company Merge Dance Theatre.

After her schooling was completed, Jennifer continued to teach dance and also was a guest choreographer/teacher for Central Connecticut State University and her alma mater Academy for the Performing Arts. Jennifer began her college teaching career by re-established dance courses in the PE department at Cerro Coso Community College. Mrs. La Curan then joined the adjunct faculty at Moorpark College, where she taught modern dance courses, choreographed and was the dance departments lighting designer.

Jennifer then took a giant leap into the south in 2007 by becoming the director of dance and assistant professor at Darton College. Darton College had a newly established AA degree in dance and Jennifer has helped develop and grow the department by 400%. In 2010, Jennifer won the Campus Technology, Education Futurists Award for the use of motion capture technology that she developed for the department. That same year she was give the Darton College Service Award and was Nominated for US Professor of the Year. In 2012, Darton College Dance Department hosted the American College Dance Festival Southeast Region Festival and Jennifer was the coordinator for this festival. Jennifer is currently an adjunct professor for Darton State College, teaching online dance history courses.

Jennifer has always had a great interest in technical theatre and lighting design for dance. She began working backstage in high school with APA course. Jennifer worked in Knott’s Berry Farm as the Assistant Coordinator for the entertainment technical department. At CSULB, she worked as a crew member under the direction of Andy Milhan for rentals in the Martha B. Nobel Theatre. While at NYU, she was the house manager for Tisch’s graduate acting department and light board operator for Tisch’s dance department. After completing her graduate work, Jennifer worked as a lighting designer and technical theatre crew member throughout the New York area for Julia Ritter Performance Group, Ballet Arts, Bergen Dance Center, The School of the Performing Arts, Central Connecticut State University, Kun-Yang Lin and Dancers, Doubletake Dance, Tamar Rogoff Performance Projects, French Institute- Florence Gould Hall, and Bates Dance Festival. After relocating Jennifer was the Parker Performing Arts Center Manager/Technical Theatre Director in Ridgecrest, CA. Then she worked with the Folsom Lake Civic Ballet and Moorpark College. She also was in charge of the all the technical aspects at Darton College for the dance department. Jennifer has recently done lighting design work for El Camino College and Braver Players Theatre Company.

Pilates has also planned an important role in Jennifer’s life. After leaving NYC and returning to California, Jennifer began to focus on her pilates and then received her comprehensive pilates certification from Body Arts and Science International (2007). She established her own pilates studio Merge Pilates in Ridgecrest, CA teaching apparatus and mat classes. While in the south, Jennifer taught pilates mat courses at Darton College and private apparatus classes in the community. Jennifer more recently pursued her 200 hour yoga certification with Transcending Yoga and her Xtend Barre certification.  Jennifer taught pilates at Fine Form Pilates in Newport Beach until the birth of her daughter in 2014.

Jennifer has returned to southern California and she is currently teaching at El Camino College, Cerrito College and Cypress College.  She is still creating work with Merge Dance Theatre around the LA/Orange County area.  Jennifer is the technology director for CDEA and hopes that her involved with CDEA will keep dance alive in CA for future generations.

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