Dance majors invent choreography
As the lights dim in the Dance Studio Theatre in the Center for the Arts, three trapezes fall from the ceiling.
Six dancers from the aerial repertory dance class make their way to the stage, each wearing a hospital gown and a psychotic smile.
Their piece is titled “Crazy Coconuts,” and they’ve been working on it all semester, junior Lara Friedman said.
Two dancers are matched up to each trapeze, combining their own core strength with partner work and trust as they swing across back and forth with their feet well off the floor.
“Crazy Coconuts” was one of three aerial repertory performances at the Dance Majors Performance Project, a show designed for student dance majors to choreograph, design, perform and showcase their own pieces, Chair of the Dance Department Susan Kirchner said.
“The image I give my non-majors when I ask them to come see this is it’s like you’ve got a channel changer in your hand, and after every piece you’re changing to another channel,” Kirchner said.
Twelve individual dances choreographed by students throughout the year were showcased.
The dances varied within the contemporary realm, including pointe and aerial work.
The “channel” following the aerial repertory performance was a contemporary piece about love and relationships titled “Unanswered Questions,” choreographed by junior Thomas Moore Jr.
Moore also choreographed and performed a second piece for the show with senior Kelly Weckesser.
Moore’s first piece used soft, glowing lights and simple, basic costumes, while his second piece was a stark contrast with animalistic movement and tribal colors.
Clawed fingers with twisted tension and athleticism made Moore and Weckesser’s duet, which is titled “Praedam Lux” meaning “prey of the light.”
“It’s a really intense battle with a lot of tension that’s kind of primal,” Weckesser said. “He throws me and he jumps, and I throw him to the floor. It’s like a five minute sprint, pretty much.”
Throughout the piece, a glowing orb circled above Moore and Weckesser, drawing their attention and curiosity throughout their interaction.
Simultaneously, dark red and tan lights created an intense and eerie atmosphere.
The dark and intense ambiance continued during Lester Horton III’s solo, “Words.”
Horton’s piece originally began as a depiction of the feeling of getting high.
However, Horton said that he was affected by the controversy surrounding student group Youth for Western Civilization, so his piece evolved into the effect words can have on a person.
Horton said he used abstract thinking to depict the way he expressed words in his movements.
Beginning with sharp and controlled movements, Horton portrayed the bound feeling words can have on a person.
As the dance continued, Horton used his entire body to thrash and lose control as he unleashed his anger.
Conversely, Catherine David said her piece “Connection” represents the bonds that tie a family.
“You work with the space under the trapeze and the space on the trapeze … so it’s a process taking the tricks and turning them into movements,” David said.
Like David, junior Maggie Kudirka embraced her creativity with her contemporary ballet pointe piece “Speaking in Tongues.”
A spoken word Hindu song created a tempo by varying the speed of the words, Kurdirka said.
“They’re [contemporary pointe movements] put in a different way and have a different texture to them,” Kurdirka said. “They’re stronger and sharper and more accented.”
The contemporary choreography continued until the end of the showcase.
The final piece of the performance was Friedman’s “Where Curiosity Leads.”
Like “Crazy Coconuts,” which opened the show, Friedman’s piece had creepy undertones.
It tells the story of a little girl getting lost in a fun house, Friedman said.
She and five other dancers used sharp and electrocuted movements to convey the craziness.
“My lighting was very specific. I had visions of exactly what I wanted,” Friedman said. “So the audience lights actually come on first and everyone’s a little bit confused. And there’s an explosion, so I wanted the lights to be very dramatic there and the screen in the back turns yellow. It’s just bright and quirky.”