Panel Discussion and Ballet Excerpts

The Amish Heritage Foundation is co-hosting Ordnung, An Amish Ballet Project with Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) Dance Theatre and the Mahoning Valley Ballet.

The event will feature select scenes from the original ballet Ordnung, An Amish Ballet, choreographed by Professor Joan Van Dyke. This will be preceded by an expert panel titled “The Right to an Education,” featuring Professor Van Dyke, Torah Bontrager, Dr. Christian Vaccaro (Sociology), Dr. Lingyan Yang (Women’s Studies), Israel Akande (grad research student), and more.

The multidisciplinary panel will convene to discuss women’s and education rights at the state and federal levels.

The event provides a unique opportunity to engage with Professor Van Dyke’s artistic interpretation of the landmark US Supreme Court case Wisconsin v. Yoder, which limits Amish children’s right to attend school past the 8th grade.

To prepare our audience for the ballet excerpts, the panel will explore the realities and complexities of education and other rights and needs in Amish and Anabaptist communities today.

The project’s choreography is set to pop music from 1972 and 1982. In addition to the panel discussion, the music helps make a complex case come alive for audiences.

It allows academia and the public to discuss Wisconsin v. Yoder in accessible and engaging ways, enabling them to join a national conversation on the right to learn and contemplate questions such as:

  • Why are Amish children prohibited from attending school after the 8th grade?


  • Why is education not a federal constitutional right for US citizens?

Audience Reviews

“The use of music of the time enriched my immersion in the conflict between seclusion and the change happening in the secular world. I am so impressed with how you were able to show the deep humanity and emotions of the characters as they navigated the strictures of Amish society.”

Dr. Michael A. Driscoll, President, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

“The audience seemed to be glued to their seats when the lights came up in the house at intermission. They wanted to see more.”

Mary Ann Kernich, Audience Reviewer

“It was my pleasure to host the pre-show panel discussion, The Right to an Education, featuring Torah Bontrager, founder of the Amish Heritage Foundation. Torah’s story of escape and deliverance is an inspiration for young Amish women seeking to fulfill their dreams through formal education beyond the 8th grade.

“After the panel discussion, I attended a performance of Ordnung, An Amish Ballet and was moved by Joan Van Dyke’s portrayal of the struggle so many Amish children face when they’re torn between family or isolation, tradition or the modern world, faith or uncertainty. Torah and Joan are to be commended for challenging the unwritten rules that have sustained Anabaptist communities for several centuries.”

Dr. Kelly Heider, Acting Assistant Vice Provost for University Libraries, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Sizzle Reel, Music, and Press Kit

Ordnung, An Amish Ballet

PRODUCED BY The Amish Heritage Foundation

film credits: miles Majercsik, Lee John Zapach; photos: brian henry

Click above or here to view the sizzle reel and other clips of the Ordnung, An Amish Ballet project

“This is a big show on a small stage.”



Interview Requests

You can also email us via the contact form here.

Amish Heritage Foundation
[email protected]
212.634.4255 text/call/WhatsApp
ATTN: Torah Bontrager

Van Dyke & Company
[email protected]
ATTN: Joan Van Dyke

About the Ballet

An Amish girl wearing a Pennsylvania-style cap is working at a store or restaurant.
Photo: © Jeremy Waltman
An Amish girl who wants to dance.

A 50-year-old US Supreme Court ruling.

A ballet that traces the unlived dreams of those denied an education beyond the 8th grade.

An Amish girl wearing a Pennsylvania-style cap is working at a store or restaurant.

The ballet begins in the US Supreme Court courtroom in 1972 during the ruling of Wisconsin v. Yoder. This determined that children in Amish communities were not required — and effectively not permitted — to attend school past the 8th grade.

An Amish girl wearing a Pennsylvania-style cap is working at a store or restaurant.
Photo: © Brian Henry

Lena, a young Amish girl, is 7 years old when the story begins. We fast forward 10 years and Lena, now 17, wants to pursue a career in the arts. But she has to do so in secret.

Curious About the Ballet?

When you join our email list to stay informed about current and new ballet performances, you also get a link to download the Free PDF: 5 Popular Myths about the Amish.

Did you know?

When you buy a ticket to the ballet, you also instantly create meaningful change in the world.

With every purchase, you support an Amish woman or child in need because all proceeds of sales go to The Amish Heritage Foundation.

Joan Elizabeth Van Dyke

Associate Professor of Dance, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Founder, Van Dyke & Company + Mahoning Valley Ballet

Joan Van Dyke is an Associate Professor of Dance in the Department of Theater and Dance and affiliate faculty for Women’s Studies at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Ms. Van Dyke is the director of the Dance Program and IUP Dance Theater Company.

During her tenure at IUP, she has choreographed 59 main stage productions for the Department of Theater and Dance, IUP Dance Theater, and the Department of Music. She serves as director and resident choreographer for IUP Dance Theater. Ms. Van Dyke was selected for the Distinguished Faculty award in the Creative Arts at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Joan Van Dyke served as the choreographer for the Unseam’d Shakespeare Company’s Production of “Macbeth 3,” which was voted one of the top ten events to see in Pittsburgh, She has served as Vice President of Dance for the Pennsylvania State Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance and is a member of the International Dance Association “Corps de Ballet.”

Ms. Van Dyke was awarded Outstanding Professional of the Year. And University Dance Teacher of the Year award for the Eastern District for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance. In addition to her University faculty responsibilities, she presently serves as the Artistic Director and Director of Curriculum for Van Dyke and Company and the Mahoning Valley Ballet where she has choreographed, directed, and produced 61 full-length classical and contemporary ballets for the company and school.

Professor Van Dyke’s interests include both quantitative and qualitative research in dance, cast-based approach to choreography, dance kinesiology, women and dance, child abuse prevention through creative movement, and The Alexander Technique. She infuses her pedagogy with an eclectic, multi-disciplined approach.

Ms. Van Dyke was an invited choreographer, lecturer, and educator internationally in Canada, Croatia, France, Greece, Ireland, and Spain.

Ms. Van Dyke was appointed to the faculty of the former Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts where she served as ballet master. Ms. Van Dyke has choreographed productions for the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts, and Squonk Opera’s production of “Indiana, the Opera.”


Contact us for student and military rates.

  • General Admission: $10
  • Early Bird Group of 5 people: $45
  • Lunch included or BYO

    Frequently Asked Questions

    When and where is the panel & ballet?
    The panel and excerpts from the ballet will take place from 10AM to 12PM on Friday, February 16, 2024 at:

    The HÜG Place (Highland Universal Gathering)
    133 Merriman Rd
    Akron, OH, USA

    For directions, call (330) 376-6460.

    Can I get ballet tickets by phone?

    Yes, but we ask that you call or WhatsApp us at +1.212.634.4255 as soon as possible to place your order, so we avoid last minute tech issues. We do have a limit on the number of seats and we won’t be able to increase that number. If you wait until too close to the ballet to buy your tickets, we might be sold out.

    What is devised theater?

    Click here for the answer.

    What is rumspringa?

    Click here for the answer.

    Is this ballet part of the film Women Talking? Or part of the book Women Talking?

    No. Women Talking is about the Mennonites, who are distinctly different from the Amish. Ordnung, An Amish Ballet is not related in any way. Click here to read more about the differences and common misconceptions about the two groups.

    What is your refund policy?

    All sales are final. If you’re unable to attend our groundbreaking event, we can’t issue a refund. However, you may give your ticket to someone else or give it back to us, and we’ll give it to someone who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend.

    Did you know?

    The Amish Heritage Foundation envisions that one day education will be a federal Constitutional right for everyone in the US, and Amish children will have the right to learn beyond the 8th grade — including the right to learn about STEM (science, technology, engineering, math), civics, law, philosophy, and the arts.

    Contact Us

    Wondering if we’re the right sponsor fit for you?

    Have questions about group rates? Or discounted tickets?

    Email us or WhatsApp/text/call 212.634.4255

    6 + 11 =