Sweet Briar dancer heads to international conference in Australia Sweet Briar dancer heads to international conference in Australia
CHESTER – Chester native Mary Parker is among a group of Sweet Briar College students and alumnae who are traveling to Australia this summer... Sweet Briar dancer heads to international conference in Australia

CHESTER – Chester native Mary Parker is among a group of Sweet Briar College students and alumnae who are traveling to Australia this summer with dance professors Mark and Ella Magruder at Panpapanpalya 2018. The second annual global congress takes place July 8-13 in Adelaide.

The conference, one of the largest gatherings of dance educators and performers worldwide, centers on four interconnected themes: dance, gathering, generations and learning, all summarized in the Aboriginal Kaurna word “Panpapanpalya.” It will take place at the University of South Australia’s City West campus and at Adelaide College of the Arts.

“The students will assist us, perform and share ideas with dancers from around the world,” said Mark Magruder, who has been teaching at Sweet Briar for more than 30 years. The Magruders will present a workshop and talk at the congress.

For Parker, a dance major and first-year student, this will be the first time she is traveling abroad.

“It will be quite an adventure,” said Parker, who co-teaches an Irish dance class in the afterschool program at Sweet Briar. “Teaching Irish dance is one of the careers I’m considering, and this trip would have a lot of great things to prepare me for it. Since Irish is competed internationally, it’s good to talk to people outside your country, make connections and practice being in a foreign location.”

Parker also wants to gain more insight into the art of teaching, including what it takes to get children interested in dance. Overall, she said the trip checks a lot of boxes on her career path. Like everyone else, though, she’s especially excited about the conference’s international aspect, and what she might learn from it.

“The thing I’m looking forward to the most is talking to people from several different countries with perspectives on dance that I may not have heard before,” she said.