On March 19 the Mary D’An-gelo Performing Arts Center welcomed dancers to its stage once again for the sophomore dance majors’ “No Strings Attached” choreography showcase.
This year the performance was a bit unusual (or usual in COVID times) as no audience members could fill the theatre due to COVID restrictions.
“Being one of the few allowed in the auditorium, it was very different with how quiet the room was after pieces and when the dancers/choreographers took the final bow,” junior Dance major Emmaline Devore, who photographed the event, said.
However, the students deserved to have their hard work showcased.
Assistant Professor of Dance Jennifer McNamara, the teach-er of the Choreography II class, explained that “our technical director, Andrew Ferguson, and students in the production practicum course did an enormous amount of research, testing and work to make a livestream a reality so the students’ friends and families could see their work.”
On top of performance differences, the choreography process was different than usual. To help with contract tracing, students could only have dancers from their own class in their pieces. In a normal year, students could draw from other classes. This meant students danced in more pieces and often had to learn up to two minutes of choreography per rehearsal. Yet each dancer met this challenge and excelled in spite of it, tackling it in their own way.
“I found that completely immersing myself in each piece that I was doing and really getting in to the ‘character’ that I was portraying helped me to keep these pieces separate in my head,” sophomore Dance major Katie Barkley-Mas-talski, said.
Sometimes though, the only way to remember so much information was through repetition.
Throughout the course, McNamara hoped students would rise to the challenges they faced from COVID, while also incorporating into their works ideas from current issues the country is facing. To help do so, students selected music from one of 10 short works from black classical composer Edward W. Hardy’s “The Woods-man,” inevitably leading to some overlap in music choices.
While adding another challenging dimension, this led to an opportunity for individual creativity and uniqueness to emerge.
“This act of listening was the most important part of this project, in my eyes,” said McNamara. “I’m not sure it was entirely successful, but I do think the students learned something about grace, attentiveness and mindfulness, and their choreography gave me a lot to ponder.”
COVID restrictions and course requirements made for a difficult assignment, yet students drew inspiration from a number of places to make something valuable and memorable.
Sophomore Dance major Danielle Tuomey drew inspiration for her piece from George Orwell’s novel “Shooting an Elephant.”
“I read this story during my junior year of high school and was attached to the way it tackles is-sues of power, imperialism, humiliation, resentment and fitting in,” Tuomey said.
Barkley-Mastalski found inspiration in the beauty of every experience.
“This strength and light in the face of adversity is really what motivated and inspired me through this process.”
This year’s Choreography II students faced many obstacles, and the performance shaped up to be different from years before, however, this didn’t keep everyone involved from dedicating themselves to the process and creating something beautiful.