Mercyhurst departments collaborate to present 'In Her Shoes'

It is a rare event when multimedia can be used to convey a singular message.

This was the goal when a project was conceived that featured the dance department, music department, graphic design, Mercyhurst Equality of Women (MEOW) club and many guest artists.

The event took place on Sunday, Jan. 22, at 2 p.m. in Walker Recital Hall.

“In Her Shoes” was much more than just a multimedia event. It is best described as a reflection of cultural manifestations, pressures and effects on women in relation to media, popular culture and social constructs.

The presentation was structured to follow a woman’s journey through her life—beginning with a birth and ending with a death.

There were many different symbolic dances within the presentation.

SoMar Danceworks, under the direction of Solveig and Mark Santilliano, did a phenomenal job representing all the different stages of life in this show.

Freshman Zeenat Javed thought that this presentation was perfect in the way the dancers presented a woman’s life.

“I think that the way they shed a light on the reality of many women’s lives in the world is brilliant. A woman has to fulfill many roles in her lifetime, and this show conveys just that.

“The choreography is also absolutely stunning,” she said.

The music department was represented well by the Collegiate Singers, a group under the direction of Rebecca Ryan.

One of the most touching pieces in the presentation was titled “Sing Me to Heaven,” which included the singers performing the piece written by Daniel Gawthrop and dancing by SoMar Danceworks.

Adding significantly to the performance was the array of projections compiled by Graphic Design Professor Jodi Staniunas-Hopper.

They included different images from nature and videos of people that brought each piece together.

Staniunas-Hopper’s work was also featured in a piece titled “Wedlock Headlock” with music by Santilliano and Pachebell’s Cannon in D arranged by senior Jonatan Estrada.

The piece featured SoMar Dancework’s dancers wearing Staniunas-Hopper’s Mexican wrestling wedding masks and “wrestling” each other.
Freshman Danielle Carlson thought that the sense of collaboration was what made the message so clear.

“It was really great to see how the different acts came together and how though each was so different, they were conveying the same message,” she said.

Adhering to the equality of women theme, the MEOW club made an appearance, explaining to the audience what it meant to each of them to be a feminist.

Senior President Lauren Moss explained why the group wanted to be a part of the performance.

“It was important for MEOW to be visible and to collaborate with these other groups. This event had a lot of meaning for us,” she said.

There were also some special guest artists in attendance at this presentation.

Danielle Russo, a Brooklyn-based dance artist, choreographed a few of the pieces of the program. Her pieces are very deep and thoughtful.

One in particular consisted of a solo dancer who was tied with a rope on the arm and leg. This intense dance represented the unjust sexual objectification of women.

Other guest artists included The Dancing Wheels Company and alumnae Sara Laurence-Sucato, Carla Hughes and Bettye Walker.

Through their presentations, each of these women represented a distinct piece of what it means to be a woman.

“In Her Shoes” was a unique experience, unlike any that Mercyhurst has seen.

Hopefully, the different disciplines can continue to work together in the future, as nothing short of brilliance is the result.