Megan Lay photo
On Feb. 28 at 7 p.m., junior BFA dance majors are presenting their latest work in Audrey Hirt Academic Center’s Walker Recital Hall.
The performance has been titled “[ ]ography,” capturing the individual choreographic processes and products of all members of the class.
The choreographers are: Lucas De Marinis, Liam Fitzpatrick, Dominic Fortunato, Hunter Hoffman, Katherine Hotinger, Marcela Gomez-Lugo, Niusha Karkehabadi, Megan Lay, Grace Petron, Rachel Rhodanz, Sarah Swanson, Sarah Taylor and Carrie VanOsten.
Following their debut in Taylor Little Theater last semester, the choreographers are assigned to work with another artist in collaboration to produce a coherent work that complements both artists.
As part of their assignment, the choreographers must communicate effectively to make the finished work.
The choreographers have chosen to collaborate with a range of artists from many disciplines, including musicians, costume designers, poets and visual artists.
VanOsten, junior Dance major and choreographer, is collaborating with her mom, a semi-professional dance costumer in Virginia. VanOsten said her piece is “centered around the colorful dreamer stuck in society’s gray world.”
Her mom created a yellow dress for the dreamer soloist to wear.
VanOsten appreciates how rewarding it has been to work with her mom on a project as personal as her own choreography.
She said, “together, we decided on a design and pattern to base the dress on. We are still in the process of making sure the dress fits as well as possible, allowing the dancer to perform at her best.”
Rhodanz has chosen to collaborate with a poet, Aleksandra Stefanovski.
Rhodanz said, “the most rewarding part of this collaboration was simply creating art with another individual who is just as passionate about a different art form than me.”
Rhodanz also fostered a collaboration between herself and her dancers by encouraging them to free write about her concept.
Rhodanz said, “I hope the audience can relate the piece to their personal lives in some way, because we all have feelings, emotions and experiences in life.
“We should be opening up to each other and coming to the humbling realization that we are all the same.”
Everyone has been asked to complete a group project in their academic classes at some point in their career at Mercyhurst and can agree that collaboration is a challenge.
Collaboration between artists can get even more complicated with issues of distance, time constraints and communication across different art forms.
Fitzpatrick also collaborated with a poet, offering his own words as inspiration for the poet’s final product.
Fitzpatrick said, “I felt like we had a true collaboration. I would show them excerpts of the choreography I had already created, and they would head back to write another draft of the poem.”
When asked about the most challenging aspect of his collaboration, Fitzpatrick said, “I did not want to stifle the voice of the poet, as I felt like having a new perspective on my words would push me to think differently as to how I wanted to tell the story.
“Seeing the finished product will definitely be the most rewarding part of the collaborative process.”
The class hopes the audience will come away from this performance with a feeling of exploration and inspiration.
Karkehabadi, who is choreographing a piece to upbeat electronic music, hopes the audience will gain a new life experience when they view her piece.
“I hope the audience gains some sort of liberation or enlightenment from my piece that changes a preconceived idea about life,” said Karkehabadi.
“This will most likely happen in an abstract sense or through the words of Miguel Gutierrez’s performance texts that I use at both the beginning and middle of my piece.
“‘Comfy Trigger,’ to me, means that at any moment in time we can choose to be comfortable where we are or we can choose to tell ourselves stories of the past that may trigger negative emotions.”
Karkehabadi chose to collaborate with her sister, who recently majored in Film.
De Marinis chose to collaborate with his brother, an up-and-coming singer-songwriter.
De Marinis said, “I always like creating dances from an abstract perspective. I hope the audience can reflect upon the connections they’ve formed with others throughout their lives.”
Collaboration is essential to developing community and artistry among up and coming artists.
He said, “collaboration helps me to take a step away from the artistic path I have followed for a while and reflect upon where I will be led by adopting the principles of an artist in another discipline.”
Every choreographer’s story is a unique part of their journey through their time in the Mercyhurst Dance department.
It is a unique opportunity to produce two original works in one year and progress to the eventual presentation of a work on the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center stage.
In April, senior Dance majors will present their final capstone projects including: staged works, dance for cameras and various research presentations.
“[ ]ography” is free and open to the Mercyhurst community.