history of ahdc

AHDC began in 1985 through the work of Arts House Graduate Fellow Lisa S. Burton, Arts House resident Jan Ohye, and Joshua Levy. The Company was supported and sanctioned (and given formal recognition) by the Department of Residential Living and the Arts House Living-Learning Program. AHDC is no longer affiliated with the Arts House Program, which gave it its beginnings. The Company is now a separate entity entirely governed by students.

The company has an executive board consisting of the following positions: Chair, Artistic Director, Marketing Director, Business Director, Costume Director, and Scheduling Director. The board offers excellent leadership opportunities for all members of the group and allows individuals to get involved in the Performing Arts Community at Penn. Currently, we are known on campus as a diverse, talented company for experienced dancers who enjoy both excelling in styles with which they are familiar and who strive to expand their horizons with new dance forms and choreography. Although we're a serious company that's grown in both experience and professionalism in recent years, we’re also a tight-knit family in and out of the studio.

The company is currently led by Chair Sydney Essex (SEAS ‘20) and Artistic Director Merry Gu (SAS ‘21).


To help maintain and improve our technique, we hold weekly ballet and jazz classes with professionals from the Philadelphia dance community. In the fall, Arts House performs in a collaboration show with an a-cappella group, and in the Spring performs a solo show. In addition to these two major performances, we can be seen all over campus, performing at fraternity and sorority coffee houses, charity benefits, university-sponsored events (including Student Performing Arts Night, Family Performing Arts Night, Senior Performing Arts Night, Making History Campaign, and Spring Fling), and even dance clubs in downtown Philly!