Studio Theatre was home not only to the Marley, but to a mattress and a mud pit, among other things, for three nights in a row this week.
From Thursday, May 2 through Saturday, May 4, audiences were privy to a collection of modern and contemporary pieces that sought to answer the “Why?” behind the movement.
This was “Where We Begin,” the culminating performance of Choreography Workshop, a class instructed by Assistant Professor of Dance Kathleen Ridlon, which spanned winter and spring terms.
Sophomore Juan Irizarry, who choreographed a silent piece for the show, described the experience of the workshop as “a huge challenge,” having come off of a year of very technical training at Joffrey Ballet. He saw it as an opportunity to “break down the movements and rationalize them,” understanding the intent behind each.
His piece, “The Strings That Attach Us,” explored the psychology of friends and relationship in silence, the only sound the faint clinking of a chain and the thud of one dancer’s collapse to the floor.
Though initially skeptical of the interpretive nature of the dances, freshman performer Angela McNeal said that, “As you see it more and more … it gets better every time. … You really get to see why these dances are, why they’re titled, why they have certain music and costuming. And just from … point A to Z, it all means something and it’s all part of a whole.”
Performing in the show offered sophomore Abby Kravis an inside view of Choreography Workshop, as well as a dance experience more formalized than the Terpsichore Dance Collective offers.
For senior Kyla Tully, who took on the role of production manager while creating two pieces as a senior project for her dance major, this show became a number one priority. Dealing with a pool of dancers for whom this was a half credit class and not necessarily of pinnacle importance, however, was an ”extremely frustrating process,” one that taught her “a lot about what goes into putting on these shows” and learning to let go and accept limitations on perfection.
For her two pieces, “We of Me” and “Overnight, it happened,” Tully drew upon dance technique gained from her term in London, as well as copious amounts of research. Her first piece, for instance, involved research into Roman psychology and World War II.
Over the course of the workshop, the pieces underwent a process of heavy evolution. In sophomore choreographer Dushawn Darling’s case, the piece was scrapped multiple times before the final form was produced.
He described the process as one that will “get you to your core and will get you to say, ‘I feel like I created honest work.’”
“Kathleen was the master of saying no, but one thing that my mom always tells me is, if you have a bunch of people around you saying yes, then you’re never going to grow. … But if you have that one person that will tell you no, even when they know it’s going to hurt your feelings, then you will always progress because you have somebody telling you the truth,” Darling said.
Senior Natalee Young, who attended the Friday performance, enjoyed seeing the efforts of the dancers’ and choreographers’ hard work pay off.
“I know it’s something they take seriously, and it’s nice to see people come out and support people who volunteer their time to dance,” she said.
Recognizing the number of younger dancers who participated, she felt that the show, with its nod to beginnings, was a good place to start.