Stivers Dance Ensemble to perform at international festival



Ten members of the Stivers Dance Ensemble at Stivers School for the Arts will participate in the 33rd annual International Conference and Festival of Blacks in Dance, slated Jan. 25-29 in Toronto, Canada.

Accompanied by dance department director DeShona Pepper Robertson and adjunct and choreographer Allyia Nelloms, the students will perform at the Sunday Brunch in a dance entitled “My Prayer,” choreographed by Nelloms. Pepper Robertson, serving in her 19th year as director, is scheduled to teach a liturgical dance class to conference participants.

“Many students are traveling internationally for the very first time and they have infused the school with their excitement,” said Pepper Robertson, in a release. “It’s warranted because of their commitment to dance and passion for learning. As educators and members of this community we want to see students thrive in educational settings that affirm their positive choices.”

Dance master classes, including technique, improvisation, creative process and repertory, take place over the five-day schedule. The festival also offers student scholarship auditions for summer study and university dance programs as well as auditions for professional positions in ballet, modern and contemporary dance companies.

Last October a fundraising campaign was launched to cover the $20,000 in student expenses to travel and participate in the conference. A GoFundMe campaign was recently launched as well. Organizers say there is still time to help the students.

“We’ve always tried to incorporate experiential learning in dance studies for our students,” said Pepper Robertson. “It opens doors beyond their high school experience and prepares them for future pursuits.”

Corporations, foundations and individuals that would like to contribute to the trip can call Pepper Robertson at 937-542-7380 or email her at

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