About Erica - Boston-based dancer, choreographer and teacher
Erica Ligeski is a Boston-based choreographer, performer and teacher. Erica has performed in the Boston Contemporary Dance Festival and all over New England with various companies including Urbanity Dance, a contemporary dance company rated Best of Boston 2012 by the Improper Bostonian. Erica is a founding member of Company Four, and recently choreographed and performed works in the Shared Choreographers Concert and Third Life Series. Previous to dancing with Urbanity and Company Four, Erica performed with Forty Steps, a modern dance company in Nahant, MA. Before moving to the Boston area, Erica owned Stardancer Studios in Newport, NH for three years; her students received numerous high score awards, special judges awards and titles. Erica received five awards for Best Choreography and her studio received the Overall Studio Excellence Award from Omega Dance Challenge. In addition to teaching in private studios, Erica served as Adjunct Professor of Dance at Colby-Sawyer College. She has been a guest performer and teacher at the Vermont Annual High School Dance Festival and for the Vermont Alliance for Arts Education. Erica has a BFA in Dance with Teaching Certification from the University of Michigan and a Master of Arts Management degree from Carnegie Mellon University. Erica currently teaches at J & D Dance Academy of Reading and is a front-end web developer at Acquia.
Dance Styles: Modern, Jazz, Contemporary, Lyrical, Ballet, Pointe, Tap; some experience in hip hop, classical Indian dance, Hawaiian dance, baton twirling, Swing dance, African dance, tango
How I Got to Boston
Erica grew up in the suburbs of Detroit and started her dance training at Ricardo's School of Dance in Trenton, MI at the age of 3. She took basic tap, ballet and tumbling and learned to love the stage at a young age. Erica joined the competitive dance team at Laura Smith's School of Dance in Flatrock, MI at the age of 7. She continued her jazz, tap, ballet and gymnastics training and also picked up baton twirling and Hawaiian dance. Competitive dance was a new and exciting world; Erica soon began competiting in the solo and duet divisions as well as group divisions. At the age of 12 she won High Score Soloist at Stardancer Talent Competition. At this point, Erica moved to MTM Dance Productions for more intense and rigorous training. Again her solo performances were well received at Starpower Nationals in Las Vegas, NV. Erica moved on to study at with Michelle Sypula at P & P Dance Center in Belleville, MI at the age of 13. She began studying Cecchetti Ballet and pointe; she received a Highly Commended on her Grade I Cecchetti examination. Erica also began assistant teaching. After studying at P & P for two years, Erica moved to Masters of Dance Arts in Canton, MI to train with Mary Helen Stewart. Masters of Dance Arts offered an amazing opportunity to be part of a powerhouse competitve studio with 50 students on the team. Erica served as Captain of the Senior Company her senior year in high school. She was part of numerous award-winning, overall high scoring group routines. She was a featured dancer in Perfect Motion, an open routine that performed in the dance-off at the American Dance Awards National Competition in Washington, D. C. Erica continued her training in Cecchetti Ballet, receiving Commendeds on her Grades II and III Cecchetti examinations.
After graduating high school, Erica left Masters of Dance Arts and became a dance major at the University of Michigan. The University of Michigan dance major program offered rigorous training in ballet and modern dance, including opportunities to choreograph and perform. While at Michigan, Erica studied ballet with Judy Rice who performed with the Joffrey Ballet and American Ballet Comedy. Erica also studied Graham technigue with Peter Sparling, Horton and Limon technique with Robin Wilson, and modern with Bill DeYong, Sandra Torijano DeYong, Gaye Delanghe, and Jessica Fogel. Erica performed in World Wide Rhythms with Robin Wilson at the Powercenter for Performing Arts in Ann Arbor, MI. She also performed in the Masters Thesis Concert, Aspros Dromos. Erica presented her senior thesis and performed in the senior choreography showcase, You See. In addition to studying dance, Erica also studied to become a certified teacher in dance. She completed her year-long student teaching assignment at Livonia Churchill High School CAPA (Creative and Performing Arts) Program in Livonia, MI. She taught beginner and intermediate classes in jazz, ballet and modern and also choreographed various pieces for their showcase performances. Erica graduated with a BFA in Dance and a Teaching Certification in Dance grades K-12 in 2000.
While training at the University of Michigan, Erica pursued many other opporunities. She began her teaching career at P & P Dance Center, teaching pre-school to advanced level classes in tap, jazz, ballet, lyrical and tumbling. She also became the Dance Program Director for Belleville Parks and Recreation Association, teaching and producing 4 mini-recitals each year. She re-joined the P & P Dance Center competitive team and continued to also compete in the solo division. She received the Most Potential award from American Dance Awards, Third High Score Senior Solo and The Total Package award from Headliners Competition and Third High Score Senior Solo and Best Emotional Connection award from Dance USA Nationals in Tenessee. While competing and teaching at P & P and Belleville Parks and Recreation, Erica continued her Cechetti Ballet training with the Livonia Civic Ballet Company, studying with Jean Gloria Newell. She received Highly Commendeds in her Grade IV and Professional Grade V Cecchetti examinations. Erica also performed in the Livonia Civic Ballet Company productions of The Nutcracker in 1997 and 1998, in the roles of snowflake, flower, Spanish and Russian.
In 2000, Erica left Michigan to attend graduate school at the Heinz School (now called Heinz College) at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. Erica pursued a Master of Arts Management degree, learning the back-end workings of non-profit performing arts organizations. This program was intense, requiring students to take classes full-time for two years. Erica was immersed into the non-profit arts world, quickly learning about marketing, fundraising, strategic planning, and outreach programs. During this two year program, Erica continued her dance training at Point Park University, taking classes in lyrical, jazz, contemporary jazz and ballet. She also served as a substitute teacher for the Pittsburgh Community Ballet Company. After graduating from Carnegie Mellon with High Honors in 2002, Erica began her professional career as a non-profit administrator, working at the Arts Education Collaborative in Pittsburgh, PA.
Moving to New England & Opening Stardancer Studios
In 2003, after three years in Pittsburgh, Erica moved north to take a position as Outreach and Arts Education Coordinator at the Hopkins Center for Performing Arts at Darmouth College. The move to New Hampshire was definitely a culture shock, but Erica found her way quickly by landing a second job -- a teaching position at a local dance studio. She began working with the advanced dancers, teaching ballet, tap, jazz, stretch and leap and lyrical. In her second year she started their first competitive dance team which travelled to five regional competitions. This team scored well and it was during this period that Erica won her first award for Best Choreography from International Dance Challenge. After a few years, Erica felt it was time to move on and open her own dance studio.
Erica opened Stardancer Studios in Newport, NH in September 2006. She started with 15 students and ended her first year with 60. Considering Newport, NH is a very rural community with only 6,000 residents, she was very pleased with the level of growth. Over the next three years, Erica continued building the studio, teaching 35 classes per week. She taught every age group, level and discipline with the help of a few wonderful student assistants. She also built two competitive teams that won numerous awards under her instruction. During the time, Erica produced three major recitals that were the talk of the town. She won numerous awards for her choreography and her students brought home major awards from all competitions. In Stardancer's third year, the competitive teams won first-place overall in all five competitions they attended; one of her graduating seniors received a major scholarship to attend University of the Arts as a dance major; and the studio received the Overall Excellence Award from Omega Dance Productions. As the studio owner and only teacher, Erica wore many hats. She choreographed, taught, cut music, sewed costumes, and managed all of the marketing and finances for the business. The studio grew to just under 100 students. During this time, Erica continued her training by attending various conventions and her studio regularly participating in the Vermont High School Dance Festival. Erica also served as Adjunct Projessor of Dance for Colby-Sawyer College. As many studio owners will understand, this was the best of times and this was the worst of times.
After three years building up Stardancer and six years living in rural New England, Erica decided it was time for a major lifestyle change. She sold her studio and moved to Boston to go back into non-profit arts administration full-time. She took the position of Marketing and Development Assistant with the Boston Philharmonic and did everything in her power to help Stardancer's new owner keep the ball rolling in Newport. Erica is so honored and proud to say that Stardancer is still going strong in Newport and many of her alumni students have gone on to pursue careers in dance.
Taking Advantage of the Great City of Boston
Coming from rural New Hampshire, Erica was ecstatic to take advantage of everything Boston has to offer. She attends as many live dance performances as possible, and now has the priviledge of taking regular classes from amazing instructors. Erica is currently teaching at J & D Dance Academy of Reading where she teaches a variety of disciplines and age levels as well as choreographs for the competition team. She is a member of Urbanity Dance in Boston and works as a web developer at Acquia. Erica loves the city of Boston and plans to be here for years to come.