Fredrick Earl Mosley, Diversity of Dance Founder, in Residence at Muhlenberg CollegeActivities include workshop dance performance ‘UNCONQUERED,’ community dance classes
By: Molly Layden '24 Friday, February 25, 2022 11:34 AM
Diversity of Dance founder Fredrick Earl Mosley brings his unique blend of social commentary and movement to Muhlenberg College this spring as the Theatre & Dance Department’s Baker Artist-in-Residence. He has recruited 25 students for a semester-long project: “UNCONQUERED,” a live dance performance inspired by pressing current events.
“I was really affected by everything that was happening through COVID,” Mosley says. “All of the racial tensions, the gender discrimination, the hate crimes, everything. And I asked ‘What can I do with my art and journal it in a way that can help others find a way to speak?’”
Mosley’s residency is supported by the Dexter F. and Dorothy H. Baker Foundation. In addition to the “UNCONQUERED” project, the residency will include workshops with teenagers in the Lehigh Valley. He is also choreographing a piece for the spring faculty and guest artist concert, “In Motion,” March 31 – April 2.
Mosley is founder and artistic director of Diversity of Dance, a springboard program for Fredrick Earl Mosley’s Institute of the Arts; Hearts of Men, a program designed to empower men of all ages through dance; and Dancing Beyond, a benefit for Dance Against Cancer. Part of his mission is to use dance not only as a form of entertainment and artistic expression, but as a tool to affect people in the most adverse circumstances.
The performance of “UNCONQUERED” is inspired by Mosley’s original dance film of the same name. Both the film and live production touch on a multitude of themes including racial injustice, politics, religion, and navigation through the COVID-19 pandemic. The performance emphasizes the importance of conversations surrounding these topics.
The students began the creative process with a week-long intensive learning movement from Mosley with assistance from members of his own company who took part in the original film. The students also meet with Mosley once per week in a classroom format to continue workshopping their unique version of the project.
“The students take what they’re learning in rehearsal and reflect on it in class,” Mosley says. “They’re writing essays, they’re journaling, they often have to do historical research that’s relative to what’s happening in the media now.”
Along with his company of students, Mosley is working closely with Visiting Assistant Professor Heidi Cruz-Austin to make the production’s creative process an extraordinary one. Cruz-Austin highlighted the students’ enthusiasm in tackling Mosley’s challenging choreography.
“All of the students are handling it really well,” Cruz-Austin says. “Earl is always telling them he’s not interested in technical perfection. He just wants to see who they are as people come through in the way they interpret movement.”
Arianna Tilley and Anya Epstein, senior dance majors and “UNCONQUERED” company members, reflected on the importance of setting a globally premiered work at Muhlenberg. The performance reflects the students' experiences and how these universal issues relate specifically to their community.
The production includes not only dance performances but also music medleys, singing, and pieces of writing from the cast members. Mosley is featuring many of Muhlenberg’s other dance faculty in the performance as well.
“It’s an everybody conversation,” Epstein says. “It’s not just up to the students. While we are the next generation and some of the most important change-makers, we need the support of the faculty behind us. It’s really unifying.”
The performance will also invite the audience to participate alongside the performers in a number of ways. The goal is for the audience to be brought out of their role as spectators and be inspired to take action.
“The audience is going on this journey with us,” Tilley says. “They need to be part of the conversation as well, because if they aren’t nothing will ever change.”
“UNCONQUERED” will be presented in the Empie Theatre, in the Baker Center for the Arts, Friday, March 4, at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Anyone interested in attending the free performance should contact the box office at 484-664-3333 to inquire about availability.
About the Muhlenberg College Theatre & Dance Department
Muhlenberg offers Bachelor of Arts degrees in theater and dance. The Princeton Review ranked Muhlenberg’s theater program in the top twelve in the nation for eight years in a row, and Fiske Guide to Colleges lists both the theater and dance programs among the top small college programs in the United States. Muhlenberg is one of only eight colleges to be listed in Fiske for both theater and dance.
About Muhlenberg College
Founded in 1848, Muhlenberg is a highly selective, private, four-year residential, liberal arts college offering baccalaureate and graduate programs. With an enrollment of approximately 2,200 students, Muhlenberg College is dedicated to shaping creative, compassionate, collaborative leaders through rigorous academic programs in the arts, humanities, natural sciences and social sciences; selected preprofessional programs, including accounting, business, education and public health; and progressive workforce-focused post-baccalaureate certificates and master’s degrees. Located in Allentown, Pennsylvania, approximately 90 miles west of New York City, Muhlenberg is a member of the Centennial Conference, competing in 22 varsity sports. Muhlenberg is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.