COPA dance department showcases student talent

19 pieces of student choreography shown over two programs

Written By Rosalie Anthony, Staff Writer

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Photo courtesy of Mark Simpson
Bailey Eland and Shalece Heugas in “The Paradigm of Us” choreographed by Sydney Jones.

Walking into the theatre you were filled with suspense, as the program was filled with a variety of pieces offering an infinite amount of possibilities. The stage was dark and as people started to fill the seats, you could feel the energy exuding. With a show choreographed by young, aspiring artists, it is often difficult to predict what is in store.

This past weekend, Nov. 15 through 17, the dance department showcased 19 students’ original works in the George Rowland White Performance Studio. For some students, this piece was their first time choreographing a piece of this caliber for the stage. One program was presented Friday night, and the Saturday matinee included nine choreographer’s works, the Sunday matinee including 10 choreographers.

The students choreograph a piece as part of their Dance Composition 3 class. Elements that go into making a dance piece include coming up with the concept, casting, costumes, lighting and music. Since there were 19 choreographers, their works were divided into two programs.

Both programs shared Tara Newhouse as the stage manager. Newhouse is a transfer, sophomore stage management major. Her job includes coordinating schedules, relaying information to make sure everyone knows what is going on, sitting in on rehearsals to learn each individual piece and calling cues during the show for lighting, sound and anything else that may need to be prompted to go onstage, like a prop.   

Photo courtesy of Mark Simpson
Aloria Adams in “Facing Tomorrow Morning” choreographed by Theodore Alexander.

“The best part of my job is that I get to be a part of this whole process, and actually a very important part of this process,” Newhouse said. “It’s so cool to see how much effort, focus and time all the student choreographers have put into it. You can tell they’re all very passionate about what they do and that makes me more passionate about being able to help them through this process.”

The second piece in the first program entitled, “Sugar, Rum, Cherry,” was choreographed by Veronica Quezada who is a dance major and musical theatre minor. The piece mixed elements of ballet and jazz. The costumes were purple with different styles of skirts; dancers who represented the ballet wore pointe shoes and dancers who represented modern wore black LaDuca heels, which are a staple shoe brand for professional dancers. 

“I’m very interested in ballet and jazz,” sophomore dance major Grace Rauton said. “It was a really great experience to work with [Quezada] especially knowing she is so versatile.”

Barbara Babcock, junior dance BFA major with a modern concentration, was one of the choreographers for the first program. Her piece, entitled “Homo Sapiens,” included eight dancers. The lighting changed throughout the piece to highlight certain dancers, and they wore white tank tops with black shorts.

“I began by having them do some character development, because my piece is about the individual itself and I wanted to create a piece based on the people in it,” Babcock said of her process in producing her piece.

In the second program, the last piece before intermission and choreographed by Hannah Martin was “Seven.” The genre of this piece was 1920’s jazz Chicago style; dancers wore black fishnet tights and black LaDuca heels. Martin cut more than seven pieces of music herself in preparation. 

“Specifically, my piece is about the seven deadly sins,” Martin said. “So, I did a lot of research… I looked at dissertation journals, scientific evidence, mythology to get a feel for what I wanted to do.”

The second piece after intermission, entitled “Uncertainty,” choreographed by Cierra Rogers, included a surprising element. The piece was a contemporary piece with six dancers. Dancers were blindfolded for almost the entirety of the piece to represent the uncertainty but excitement that the future holds after graduation.

“She wanted us to connect about what we are uncertain about in our own lives which is how we will connect with the piece,” sophomore dance major Eli Smutny, who was cast in Roger’s piece said.

With this semester’s show being so well received, it is anticipated that the department will continue producing the showcase for semesters to come.

“They’re all so different, then each one is so interesting and beautiful in its own way,” senior English major Lorie Simonian said. 

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