|"There is a miracle in every new beginning." - Herman Hess
The Culnane Dance Collective (CDC) was created in 2018 by Director,
Maria Triano of PA Dance Network and PA Dance Vision to honor the work, teachings
and dance legacy of, the late, Professor Catherine Culnane (Kitty), modern dance
choreographer, educator, and mind, body, spirit teacher who served at East Stroudsburg
University for over a decade, as well as, to continue the foundation of rich dance legacy
which was rooted by the exquisite teachings of the first professor of dance at ESU,
modern dancer and educator, the late, Mary Jane Wolbers.
CDC is a dedicated, passionate and educated group of regional dance professionals,
dancers, teachers and dance advocates comprised of East Stroudsburg University Dance
Alumni, guest dance artists who served ESU's Contemporary Dancers,
The University Dance Company and the Dance Team since the mid 90s.
Kitty shared her passion for teaching, modern technique and theories, choreographic
process, and life with thousands of students throughout her journey and professional
career. She was an avid member of the Monroe County Arts Council in Stroudsburg, PA.
Kitty was an actress and a member of the first Drama Division at Julliard. Performing at
the Lincoln Center, and in many off Broadway productions, she studied with Anna
Sokolow, Elizabeth Keen, Ruth Currier (Limon Dance Company & Limon Technique),
Laban and Wigman Techniques at the Margaret Dietz Dance Studio, Humphrey-
Wideman Techniques & Contact Improvisation at the Nancy Houser Studio, and
Cunningham Technique at the Cunningham Studio in NYC. Kitty also consulted for
Norman Lear's Act III Productions at Paramount Studios.
A few years after the first professor of dance and founder of the ESU Dance Program,
Mary Jane Wolbers, retired, Kitty began her teachings at ESU, alongside then Dance
Program Coordinator, Dr. Elizabeth Goodling ("Liz"...who retired in 2019). She carried
out Mrs. Wolbers' legacy with her community outreach, love of modern dance, role in
the Monroe County Arts Council, and with her work in continuing the Community Dance
Program (which was started by Mrs. Wolbers). She started the adult social ballroom
dance classes, where she then began training, 2003 ESU graduate, dancer,
choreographer, teacher, former University Dance Company Guest Artist and owner of
Symmetry Dance Company (Scranton, PA), Abby Scaramuzzo-Slater as the lead teacher.
Mary Jane Wolbers began her career at East Stroudsburg University in 1963. She was a
passionate advocate of creativity-based programs in dance education. She valued art
and cultural expression in all forms, from poetry to painting, from architecture to fiber
arts. She had a strong desire to bring art programs to families in need. She combined
homemade instruments with creative movement and dance and thus the Community
Dance Program was born at East Stroudsburg University. Mrs. Wolbers was credited for
bringing various artists and performers to the area for special dance workshops. She
also organized high school dance workshops, giving young aspiring dancers a chance to
learn from world-renowned performers. She served as an advisor for the Pennsylvania
Governor's School for the Arts, and is featured in Women Who Made History in Monroe
County. Mary Jane Wolbers was a charter member of the American Dance Therapy
Association, which uses dance/movement therapy to promote emotional, social,
cognitive and physical integration of the individual.
In 2006, Kitty was diagnosed with a brain tumor. During this difficult time Kitty turned
to dance to help heal her mind, body, and spirit. She continued to see herself as an
artist, teacher, performer, choreographer, and presenter at conferences, and felt
strongly that she continue her work. While in recovery after surgery to remove the
tumor, Kitty was given approval from her doctors to start dancing again. As a dancer,
who was aware of her body, she knew when she was pushing herself too far and knew to
take things slow, so her brain could heal. Kitty would arrive at the dance studio early for
each class to take some time for herself to improvise. It was during this time that Kitty
was thoroughly involved in self-healing. She had a lot of sorrow and processing to do,
dancing and creating gave her the outlet to love herself.
In the spring of 2007, Kitty collaborated with her long time protégé,
Maria Triano, to create a dance for the University Dance Company called,
"The End is the Beginning"...now entitled, "The End of the Beginning". The piece, which
is set to music by Sarah McLachlan, is a modern dance which dives into the inner-
reflection and soul excavation of ones ability to be who they were born to be while
hearing the echos of self-doubt and fear...questioning if one is enough. It was originally
created as a trio which was performed by Culnane, Triano and their student, Suzanne
Pecoraro Snyder. Over the years, the two further developed the work into a suite which
was performed by members of the University Dance Company, as well as, Liz Goodling
and members of PA Dance Vision. During the process, Kitty gave the choreography to
Maria and PA Dance Vision. Maria and PA Dance Vision continue to perform
the original piece for audiences to this day.
Upon Kitty's passing in 2017, Triano produced a performance honoring her work and
teachings at ESU. She invited ESU Dance Alumni to join her in recreating some of Kitty's
timeless choreographic works. An out-pouring of love and the women who stepped
forward to dance again for Kitty and Maria was magical.
Along with PA Dance Vision and Symmetry Dance Company, dancers "came home"
to their alma mater to honor their professor, and their own love of dance.
Some of the alumni had not danced in 15 years.
The concert was entitled, "You Are The Wave".
Maria Triano has served as dancer, Assistant Director and Guest Artist for The
Contemporary Dancers and The University Dance Company since 1994. Through her
work with Liz Goodling, Triano was appointed Choreographer for ESU's Broadway
Musical Reviews under the direction of former Music Department Chair, Professor Terry
Flatt for 10 years. Adjacent to her dance career, she is a Yoga & Meditation Teacher and
Trainer, Reiki Master, Healer, Essential Oils Teacher, Spiritual Intuitive, Life Coach,
Mentor and Published Author. Maria is CEO for PA Dance Vision, Inc., a 501c3 non-profit
organization specializing in community outreach, dance choreography and
performance, which is the governing body of CDC. She is a certified dance teacher by
Dance Masters of America & Dance Educators of America in Jazz, Tap, Ballet & Modern
from beginner through professional levels. Maria created and produced the Mountain
Dance Concert, which for 15 years, brought regional dance companies together to
share their dance art in the Pocono Mountains of PA. The Mountain Dance Concerts
were performed for many years at ESU and then at The Sherman Theater in
Stroudsburg. PA Dance Vision received a number of Artist in Residency grants to share
their work in the public schools which they offered throughout the tri-state. Maria was
choreographer for 11 years at Pocono Mountain School District for SCEAP (Student,
Community, Enrichment, Activities, Program) under the direction of Grammy
nominated, singer/songwriter, Lamar Thomas, Sr. Her business skills were honored by
the University of Scranton’s Small Business Development Center where she was
recognized as a women entrepreneur of merit.
The mission of the Culnane Dance Collective is to bring dance, and mind, body, spirit
education to the current students, professors and staff of East Stroudsburg University,
to the ESU Dance Alumni and to community through a variety of workshops,
seminars and performances, both in person and online.
The first one will be at a holiday performance in the beginning of December.