The Mercyhurst Dance Department will present its popular Raw Edges performance this coming weekend, Feb. 3-5.
This is one of the more popular dance department performances at Mercyhurst University and in the Erie community. This unique showcase of performances involves up-and-coming student choreographers presenting fresh and original works.
There are six pieces being presented by students this year, plus two other pieces from alumni. The most exciting part about this showcase is the chance for choreographers to see their hard work come to life.
The opportunity for a student choreographer to see his or her work performed in front of a community audience is extremely rare, and a great way to show what Mercyhurst is capable of.
The entire process is helpful for the student choreographers to see what it is like to work with dancers and have time constraints on getting their pieces finished.
It is also a mind-opening experience since the choreographers usually collaborate with another art related field.
Junior Anastasia Welsh commissioned Mercyhurst music alumna Kayla Nash to compose the music for her piece, while junior Tess Sinke worked with Robert Von Thaden, Ph.D., and Greg Baker of Campus Ministry to get recordings of people saying lines from different prayers.
Some of the themes in this year’s performance include the renewal of spring, power within an individual, the concept of time and the life of a college student.
Junior Jessica Stachlerodt choreographed a ballet piece, which was a bit of a stretch for her since her comfort zone is more of the modern or jazz genre. The bright and flowing costumes, combined with the faster movements and bright music really portray her idea of spring coming at the end of a long winter.
Senior Eden Mishler’s piece is about the emotions of a typical college student.
She creatively portrayed each emotion using a mime to symbolize how difficult it is to vocalize emotions.
“The inspiration came from a combination of things. I have always wanted to choreograph a literal ballet about emotions,” said Mishler. “It is a light-hearted comedy that is performed to French music and lyrics.”
Tess Sinke, who is choreographing for the first time for Raw Edges, and is also performing, said of the experience, “It was a positive experience to work with my peers. As a choreographer I liked it because they can see me as their equal so they aren’t afraid to really let go or ask questions.
“It makes for a more collaborative process, and we are able to work together to find out what works best.”
Melissa Sheffield’s choreography promises to captivate audience members with a relatable and dominant piece that follows the journey of 12 dancers searching for power within themselves.
Senior Kelly Clymer’s piece, “Hands of Time,” is a modern piece representing Clymer’s creative understanding of the passing of time.
Welsh’s piece is unique in that it is a large ensemble work set to music composed specifically for her. It is Welsh’s tribute to the famous and much revered choreographer George Balanchine.
The dance is about clean, simple lines and energetic movements with a hint of Welsh’s own flavor.
Junior Ashley Cook, who is a dancer in Welsh’s piece, says of the entire Raw Edges experience, “It’s fun to work with your peers in a large scale production. It’s a good experience for both the dancers and choreographers because we are all learning and getting one step closer to our ultimate goal, whether that be a professional dancer or a major choreographer.”
The Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center sees around 170 productions a year to date and, even then, Raw Edges is one of the most anticipated visual arts showcases to grace this venue.
This will be the first of the annual dance series to be performed under our university status, and just like that historic change, this should be an equally exciting addition to the Raw Edges concert.
Show your support to our outstanding dance department and their production of Raw Edges this weekend.
Shows will be performed Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. in the PAC.