ShareThis Page

Carlynton graduate performing in Duquesne University show

Doug Gulasy
| Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Amanda Huddart
Amanda Huddart
Amanda Huddart, left, performs in the Exhalations Dance Theatre at Duquesne University with Lea Fosbenner, center, the company’s president, and Juli Niehl, right, her best friend.
Submitted photo
Amanda Huddart, left, performs in the Exhalations Dance Theatre at Duquesne University with Lea Fosbenner, center, the company’s president, and Juli Niehl, right, her best friend. Submitted photo

Amanda Huddart always felt drawn to dance.

The 2012 Carlynton School District graduate began dancing at 2 years old and began to compete at 7.

As a three-year captain of the Carlynton drill team, she choreographed dances for the team's halftime show. She even appeared in Carlynton's musicals as a featured dancer.

But when she moved on to study biology and enroll in the pre-med program at Duquesne University, she decided to give it all up.

“It was a big decision not to do anything like that when I had left my studio in high school because I'd been so connected with it,” said Huddart, 18, of Carnegie.

“It's been a huge part of my life. But I decided that I definitely needed to broaden my horizons, try new things and go to school for my academics.”

That proved to be more difficult than she thought, as she struggled meeting new people at the bigger university and even considered transferring.

Then she found out about Duquesne's Exhalations Dance Theatre. Since her September tryout and admittance into the club, Huddart's college experience improved.

“What a great program,” said Beth Huddart, Amanda's mother. “Had this one girl not started this dance company all these years ago, I don't think my daughter would still be there at school.

“She probably would have been a transfer at Christmastime, and I probably would have been crying because I would have lost about $10,000.”

Exhalations groups dancers into four skill levels: Beginner, intermediate, advanced and company. Huddart qualified for the company, the highest skill level.

The organization will present its second show of the year, “The Choreography Project,” at 7 p.m. Feb. 23 and 2 p.m. Feb. 24 at the New Hazlett Theatre on the North Side. Performances will be by the company group only.

“We have numerous dances that the other girls have choreographed that we're going to be performing,” Huddart said.

While Exhalations performs mostly contemporary dance styles, Huddart specializes in tap. She won local and national titles in tap dancing while a member of Bridgeville-based Legacy of Dance.

In high school, she also appeared as a featured dancer in three Carlynton musicals — “My Favorite Year,” “The Wedding Singer” and “42nd Street.” She lettered in cheerleading for four years and spent five years as a member of the Cougarettes drill and dance team, the last three as captain.

The dual roles of cheerleader and dance team member meant Huddart often would cheer for two quarters at football games, perform with the band at halftime and then cheer again for the final two quarters. But that busy schedule prepared her for college life.

“I'm definitely a schedule-oriented person,” she said. “I go to class and come back and do homework, study whatever I have to do and go to dance after that. It's definitely a little bit busy, but I always find time to get my academics taken care of first and foremost.”

Before she joined Exhalations, Huddart felt out of place at Duquesne. Beth Huddart said she and her daughter drove through the campus at Chatham a couple of times because Amanda wanted to transfer.

Amanda Huddart is glad she found a reason to stick around.

“It was definitely a life-saver,” Huddart said of Exhalations. “It helped me make a lot of decisions about staying at school.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-8527 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.