The Mercyhurst Dance department is celebrating the 20-year anniversary of highlighting student choreography.
Presenting an all–female choreographed program, nine senior BFA Dance majors have the opportunity to choreograph using fellow Dance majors for their final choreographic work presented in the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center.
Choreographers are exploring and researching themes ranging from painting, musical accompaniment, strength training and dance videography.
The choreographers are Marleigh Bristol, Sara Clarke, Audrey Davison, Ragan Faulkner, Kathryn Galimi, Lacey Gigliotti, Elizabeth Hite, Kerry Schroeder and Makayla Sprague.
Schroeder has chosen to study the life and work of artist Georgia O’Keeffe as inspiration for her capstone research project.
Schroeder’s work consists of nine one-minute dances, each representing a O’Keeffe painting.
Schroeder said, “The most rewarding part of this capstone is being able to see my vision come to life on five incredible dancers. I feel so fortunate to work with my talented peers every day.”
Not only does the entire capstone project include the presentation of choreography, but the choreographers have to research and write about an underlying topic for their work.
Schroeder did a great deal of research for her piece.
She said, “For my research, I have interviewed several artists on their opinions on some of O’Keeffe’s works. I have also studied her life, her artistic philosophies and many critics’ opinions of her work.”
This allows Schroeder as a choreographer to hold an expert lens when choreographing her piece.
Sprague has gained inspiration from the subconscious influence society has on individuals’ perceptions of their appearance.
She researched psychological disorders and societal issues contributing to the disorders.
Sprague decided to use Samuel Barber’s composition “Adagio for Strings” as accompaniment for her choreography.
Sprague said, “The most challenging aspect of this project has been choreographing to a very famous piece of music.
“Matching the power of the music with movement has been difficult.
“However, the most rewarding aspect of the process is getting to see my cast grow as dancers.”
Clarke’s piece, “Resilient Composure,” is the product of researching the integration of conditioning exercises to aid ballet technique to better prepare dancers for the demands of dance today.
Other than being a part of the all-female roster of choreographers, Clarke is empowering women through choreographing a piece featuring female to female partnering, something not traditionally used in ballet choreography.
Clarke said, “The inspiration behind the written portion of my capstone is the high incidence of injury in classically trained female dancers who must perform contemporary work.
“I have also spent the year researching the evolution of ballet technique, how injury incidence has changed over the years, and what exercises are the most beneficial for cross-training dancers without overexerting them.”
Clarke hopes to carry the knowledge gained from this process into her life as a professional in the dance field.
She said, “I am developing my own curriculum, which I will someday employ, should I open my own studio.
“I hope the dancers I have been working with have gained confidence in their new strength and are comfortable with the bonds they have made with other dancers in the piece.”
This event will take place April 20 at 7 p.m., April 21 at 2 and 7 p.m. and April 22 at 2 p.m.
On April 20, a pre-performance reception will benefit community partner SafeNet, as well as the Jenni-Lyn Watson Memorial Scholarship Fund.
Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and students and $5 for Mercyhurst students with ID and children 12 and under.