Senior dance concert showcased students’ choreography chops

The six senior choreographers for the concert. Photo from Arts for Ohio.

The six senior choreographers for the concert. Photo from Arts for Ohio.

 The Ohio University School of Dance put on its annual senior dance concert, which took place Nov. 3 through Nov. 5. The performances showcased the six seniors of the dance program and their choreography.

Senior performance and choreography major, Earlyn Whitehead, said the dancers had 12 weeks to choreograph original pieces. Out of the eight pieces performed during the show, three were solos. The other pieces were dynamic group performances.

Each  piece was varied, but there was an obvious theme to the show. The senior choreographers chose modern techniques and themes to run through their original pieces.

The evening began on a lighthearted note with Michael O’Neill’s “It just goes lalala.” The music was light and chipper and the dancers wore loose, floral dresses. The combination of the music and the costumes gave the dance a young and naïve feel. The choreography was also relatively simple and sometimes intentionally careless. The dancers would frequently bump into one another and  then continue dancing without hesitation.

A highlight of the evening was “Self-Restraint,” choreographed and performed by Steven Evans and Lauren Slivosky. The piece is concerned with interpretations of gestures. The dance consisted of a series of hand motions and gestures usually in quick, sudden movements.

The piece represented a tense relationship between the male and female performers, but Evans said there is no personal story behind the choreography.

“A lot of our audience ends up putting a story line to it, or they create ideas without us even having to instigate what it is. It is nothing to us, it’s just a series of movement communication,” he said.

The most captivating aspect of the piece was the lack of music that made the dancer’s heavy breaths and contact audible.

“We did have music. It wasn’t originally in silence, but we decided that silence was the best option, because we thought the music took away from what the gestures meant,” Evans said.

Whitehead choreographed two dances, one reserved for a group of dancers and the other as a solo piece.

“Disturbance withIN a medium” was performed by three female dancers. The performance had a futuristic tone with electronic music that Whitehead designed herself with effects from Garage Band. The music and movements alternated between graceful, flowing moves and sudden, choppy gestures. The lighting was dramatic, being almost completely dark with the exception of one or two spotlights.

“The piece was inspired by the characteristics of light. How light travels, how it’s absorbed, how it comes in contact with another light, its pathways through space and its energies. It’s very fast…and holds a lot of tension,” Whitehead said.

Whitehead’s solo piece was also one of the strongest performances of the show. “Awakening the Illusion” was accompanied by a voice recording of multiple people talking and whispering.

“I asked four of my friends to write down their thoughts for a 10-minute span and record them in different pitches, like whisper, loud, excited. Then I just overlaid them and did a lot of trial and error to figure out what fit best,”Whitehead said.

The tone of the piece was bothered and at times almost tortured. Whitehead’s movements were quick and expressive, as she threw her entire body into the performance avoiding eye contact with the audience.

“It originally started with the idea of how people communicate with other people…but after I started creating some movement, I realized that it felt very personal and internal. I was creating movement based on my own thoughts. So I just took it to another level and expanded on that,” Whitehead explained.

Through their distinct styles, the dancers showed that they were not only “dancing” students, but modern choreographers.

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