Students show 'raw' talent
The Dance Department’s 12th annual performance of student choreography, “35 Years: Raw Edges,” will occur this weekend, Saturday, Feb. 6, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 7, at 2 p.m. in the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center (PAC).

Although “Raw Edges” is a long-held tradition, some things have changed a bit for this year’s performance, which coincides with the Dance Department’s 35th anniversary celebration.

The concert will feature the works of the most experienced student choreographers, namely those taking the Choreography III and Senior Seminar courses, unlike in the past when Senior Seminar students had their own showcase in the spring and Choreography II and III were combined for “Raw Edges.”

In the words of Dance Chair Tauna Hunter, “Change is always good, and we are shaking things up a bit for our 35th.”

Another new addition as part of the anniversary celebration will be the appearances of two Mercyhurst dance alumni in the concert. Meredith Lyons (2003) and Noelle Lelakus (2008), who both participated in “Raw Edges” as dancers and choreographers when attending Mercyhurst, will each perform a solo for the performance.

“Raw Edges” offers variety with different dance genres, music and thematic ideas being put on stage. The choreographers this year are exploring themes such as living art, self discovery, stress and its effect on the human psyche, scorned lovers and the 1742 Scottish Act of Proscription, to name a few.

Music used for the choreography includes Ceolbeg, Lucia Micarelli, Safteysuit, Yann Tiersen, Penguin Café Orchestra and a score by Mercyhurst senior Kirsten Rispin that was commissioned especially for the performance. Live music will be used for two pieces in the performance.

All Choreography III students were required to include a collaboration with another artist as part of their choreography, which will add interest to the pieces presented in “Raw Edges.” Artistic collaborations this year involve work by musicians, a costumer and a visual artist.

Choreographer and junior dance major Brieänna Hynish spoke of “Raw Edges” and the choreographic process: “Actually getting to see my choreography executed beautifully by the dancers is the most amazing thing; I’m close to tears sometimes when I watch them dance. I absolutely love seeing my ideas set to music that originally inspired me. It is so rewarding!”

Each performance will include “Take-a-Break,” an intermission chat moderated by Senior Seminar professor Mark Santillano, in which the choreographers will speak about their new works and answer questions from the audience.

“I think choreographing is the hardest and also the most rewarding thing I do all year. Taking the jumbled mess in my head and having it make sense on stage is no small task,” fellow choreographer and junior Claire Hinde said.

Tickets for “35 Years: Raw Edges” are $1 with a Mercyhurst student ID and can be purchased at the PAC box office in advance, at the door, or by calling extension 3000.