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Mike Moss Awardees 2023

Mike Moss Awardees 2023

April 10, 2023

We congratulate four of our Mike Moss Awardees for 2023, seniors Mia Zaia, Shermeka Brown-Ancrum, Sarah Kitchen, and Ava Pizzi.

(Clockwise from top left): Mia Zaia, Sarah Kitchen, Ava Pizzi, Shermeka Brown-Ancrum

About the Project

Senior Dance Showcase 
Friday, April 14, 2023
URBN Center

Students will present their projects, serve food and wine, and perform a group dance together. Get tickets here!

About the Awardees

Mia Zaia is a Dance major with a minor in Communications who is excited to present her senior project this Spring quarter. Mia's senior project is a survey research project exploring career satisfaction for dancers in the United States. Often feeling like dance is not seen as a useful career, Mia wants to explore if other dancers have had similar experiences. She also wants to investigate the reasons why the United States seems to value the arts less than other countries. Mia wishes to uplift dancers despite these ongoing issues and will conduct an improvisation session with two other dancers to be shown at the final presentation on April 14th.

Mia has showed her own exploration of who she is as a dancer through video of her improvisation structures as a self-exploration exercise in order to regain her confidence as a dancer. Her dancing fosters her intellectual curiosity and in a way is also collaborative through the community research aspect. Mia’s project advocates for salary fairness, respect, and open-mindedness towards all career types.

Sarah Kitchen, originally from New Jersey, currently resides in Philadelphia, PA. She is a senior at Drexel University pursuing a B.S. in Dance with a concentration in Pre-Physical Therapy and a minor in Somatics. She recently completed the Drexel Pilates 450-hour comprehensive training program and is now a certified Pilates instructor.

Sarah first began dancing at age 4 and danced competitively at her hometown studio, Yvonne’s School of Dance. She pursued professional dance training at Middlesex County Magnet School of the Arts from Cleo Mack before committing to Drexel. She is currently part of the Drexel Dance Ensemble and has had the privilege to work with professional choreographers such as Cashet Ivy, Rebecca Malcolm-Naib, Ali Willingham, Sandra Parks, Anito Gavino, Emma Valeria, Jennifer Morley, Hassan Syed, Chandra Moss-Thorne, and many student choreographers.

She has expressed interest in somatic practices like dance, Pilates, and yoga and hopes to become a certified yoga instructor. She values movement, creativity, and community and stands strongly with the statement that “dance is a healing art.”

Sarah's project is an improvisational embodiment of the self-research she obtained through practicing somatic methods such as meditation, breath work, yoga, and Pilates. Her journey reflects how she utilized those somatic practices as she navigated difficult journeys throughout her four years at Drexel. Her project upholds the value of Drexel dance: "Dance as a healing art".

Shermeka Brown-Ancrum is a senior Dance major with a minor in Business who is currently in the Master’s program for Education. She is currently a part of the touring ensemble here at Drexel University. While on her Co-Op at Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO!), she trained with the second company known as D2. She is currently still training with the second company as a trainee. Through her start of training at PHILADANCO!, she grew to love codified techniques such as Horton and Graham.

Shermeka’s dance career started with praise dancing at her church as a child. She grew a love for dancing and started to take dance classes in the seventh grade. Shermeka started teaching by choreographing praise dance at her church in 2016 and has recently choreographed for the Philadelphia Youth Ballet for their 2022 Spring Concert.

Shermeka is also a business owner and dance educator. Shermeka desires to be an excellent and inspiring dance educator and performer with the hopes and dreams of owning multiple dance studios and outreach programs for the less fortunate.

Shermeka has studied and trained under many well-known teachers, artists, and legends, including Joan Myers Brown, Kim Bear-Bailey, Zane Booker, Tracy Vogt, Kim Gadlin, Donald T. Lunsford, Janine N. Beckles, Antoinette Coward-Gilmore, Dara Meredith, and more.

In her own words, “I want to be a motivational speaker for the youth. I dream of making a change not only in dance but also in the world. I want to inspire young black girls in the dance world and provide a safe place for them. I also want them to understand they can dance and be excellent at it. Dance teaches discipline, growth, commitment, and time. Through dance, I have learned that perfecting your craft as an artist or creator takes time.”

Shermeka’s thoughts on her collaborative senior project:
“This may be known as getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. At the same time, I find the technique and expand the mind, body, and soul as I move freely as the music moves my feet. In due time, the movement shall find me, allowing me to focus and develop on being true to my self-discovery. Growth will come from expanding and just living in the moment.”

Ava Pizzi began dancing at the age of two with Harrison Dance Studios in West Chester, Pennsylvania. She was heavily trained in ballet, partner work, Broadway tap, and contemporary jazz until graduating high school. She is currently pursuing a BS in Dance at Drexel University with a minor in Somatics. She began dancing as a company member with Anne-Marie Mulgrew Dancers and Co in February 2022 and became an intern at Kun-Yang Lin Dancers this past Fall. Ava is also working with Jennifer Morley to earn her Pilates certificate. She has a passion for sharing the Pilates method to influence her teaching of dance to children here in the Philadelphia area as well as at her home studio in West Chester.

Ava Pizzi’s project will focus on gathering a group of thirteen Philadelphia artists for workshops where they will discover how combining their creative art forms with dance and movement can improve our artistic lenses as a community. She plans to host as many workshops as possible, with the group in several locations around the Philadelphia area where they will make art that inspires movement, or movement that inspires art, including multiple different artistic mediums such as sculpture, poetry, painting, drawing, woodcarving, pastels, videography, and more. The culmination of her project will be a “Moving Gallery” which is an improvised movement excerpt that gives the artists an opportunity to reflect and dance amongst their artwork and creations from previous workshops, performed by her and the artists at the Senior Project Presentation in April. She plans to continue expanding her workshops after graduating. She hopes that this project inspires people to encourage their communities to gather and dance while sharing their artistic abilities and ideas.