'Raw Edges' pleases students, choreographers alike

“Raw Edges,” the Dance Department’s annual student choreography concert that took place on Saturday, Feb. 6 and Sunday, Feb. 7 in the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center (PAC), was once again a success this year.

The show was eclectic, the dancers performed well and overall the audience members seemed to enjoy themselves.

Junior Bethany Brun, who attended the Saturday evening show, was especially excited about what she saw.

“It was fantastic, superbly choreographed, engaging, and had me stomping my feet from the word ‘go’,” she said.

The closing piece for each show, “Off-Kilter,” was a lively Scottish-themed dance choreographed by Elizabeth Watson. This dance seemed especially to be a favorite of the audience members, as many clapped along with the dancers for the final section of the piece.

The Saturday matinee performance of “Raw Edges” was used as an opportunity to recognize and show appreciation for donors for Mercyhurst. Many donors were present in the audience, and a special reception was held after the performance during which the donors mingled with the dancers, choreographers and dance faculty.

Many of the donors appeared to have enjoyed the show, as they complimented and congratulated the dancers and choreographers.

Along with the success of the dance concert, however, also came challenges and stress for those involved. The threat of injuries is always present for dancers, and this danger came to fruition this weekend for the Mercyhurst dancers. One of the dancers with a featured role in two different pieces suffered an injury the night before the Saturday shows and consequently could not perform.

Choreographers Elizabeth Galloway and Christopher Taddiken, along with understudies Eden Mishler and Jessica Stachelrodt, used their skill and ingenuity to bounce back from this setback and still presented strong performances.

Injury also affected the appearance of Mercyhurst alumni in the concert. Meredith Lyons (2003) was unable to come perform for this reason, and so assistant dance professors Mark and Solveig Santillano danced a duet in place of her solo for the Saturday matinee performance.

When asked how they felt about the performance weekend and the process of choreographing this term, most of the choreographers said they felt good about the experience, in spite of the difficulties inherent in putting on such a production.

Dance chair and senior seminar professor Tauna Hunter said, “Despite many challenges we had to overcome, the performances were amazing. The comments from the audience members, donors and (Mercyhurst College) President (Dr. Tom Gamble) were extremely positive.”

Choreography III professor Solveig Santillano echoed these thoughts, saying, “The hard work paid off, and the show was a success. I heard so many positive and enthusiastic responses while in the audience, and I really enjoyed seeing the students all shine!”