On Display: Forever Dancing

Dancing Figures, 1976, Steel, 14 in x 103/4 in x 41/2 in. Photo by

Dancing Figures, 1976, Steel, 14 in x 10 3/4 in x 4 1/2 in. Photo by Deirdre Haber Malfatto

In May 2015, during their fiftieth reunion weekend, about sixty members and friends of the class of 1965 gathered in Abbey Hall living room to dedicate a sculpture to classmate Denise Thompson Smith ’65, who passed away in 2010.

A close-knit group of classmates, who call themselves the “Porter People” and have kept in touch through informal newsletters since their senior year at Mount Holyoke, worked together to identify a fitting tribute to the first of their own to die.

Together they purchased a steel sculpture by longtime Mount Holyoke art professor Leonard DeLonga, who began at the College when the friends were students and with whom many formed close friendships. The piece was sold to the group by DeLonga’s widow, Sandy, from her personal collection and shows a group of dancers holding another above their heads.

“We see it as her friends lifting her up to heaven,” says Di Howland McIntyre ’65, one of the Porter People.

The sculpture is now on permanent display in the lobby of Kendall Sports and Dance Complex. “Denise was student president of the MHC Dance Club, and she never saw the new dance studios,” says McIntyre, “but it’s very fitting that she will always have a place there now.”

This article appeared in the summer 2016 issue of the Alumnae Quarterly.

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7 responses to “On Display: Forever Dancing”

  1. Susan d'Olive Mozena'67 says:

    I was very touched by this tribute, remembering Denise as a beautiful young woman, part of our “Sister Class.” I just pulled the 1965 Llamarada from my den bookshelf and reminded myself of her lovely smile, from her senior portrait. What a wonderful, fitting gesture by your class. The sculpture is perfect.

  2. Joanna Jones says:

    Denise was my frequent companion and collaborator in the dance studio. I looked up to her and admired her grace and courage. What a wonderful tribute! Joanna MacWilliams Jones ’67

  3. Anyone who took classes with DeLonga would remember him as an exceptional person. This sculpture is such a fitting tribute. My graduating class got a print of one of his sketches as a parting gift that I still cherish.

  4. Lori Souder says:

    I live and work in town and use Kendall 3-4 times a week. The sculpture is stunning with an incredible energy surrounding it. Now that I know the story behind it, I will pay my respects to Denise and her loving classmates.
    Lori Souder ’80

  5. Jessica Padgett says:

    What a gorgeous tribute!

    • Diana Washburn says:

      Such a beautiful sculpture in honor of the most lovely, gentle and kind soul. It was such a pleasure to know and work with Denise…even as short as a time it was. Diana

  6. Susan Regenbogen Rosinoff says:

    I was sooo happy to see a photo of this beautiful sculpture honoring my long-time friend, Denise Thompson-Smith. I miss her so much, and think of her often. Much love, dear friend, SusanRRR

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