DANCE/Strasser maps power in art
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 13:10
Lights were dimmed and the floor was set for the Brockport dance department’s unique performance known as Dance/Strasser the weekend of Friday, Oct. 19.
The College at Brockport dance department has developed its dance concert into a distinctive, powerful and fascinating show over the past few years. The show allows undergraduate and graduate student choreographers to create their own unique performance art.
Seven weeks into the semester is an incredibly short time for the choreographers to produce dances held to such high standards.
In this short amount of time, they auditioned dancers, came up with material for rehearsals, met with faculty advisers, revised and edited work and auditioned pieces to get them ready for the performance.
This year’s performance consisted of 12 songs each choreographed by a different student. It was one of the most original performances over the past few years.
Included were a diverse collection of styles and genres, like Nicole Kaplan’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) thesis project, “Mapping,” in which complicated musical structures are brought to life through strategic and risk-seeking moves.
Junior Michelle Glynn’s “XY Variables” featured a Norwegian exchange student, Sebastian Solem.
Master drummer Khalid Saleem and an ensemble heightened Oluyinka Akinjiola’s female quintet, “Mojuba.” Akinjiola created a cultured atmosphere by incorporating live music.
Choreography is an art form that consists of the most creative dance, allowing students to showcase their own thoughts and ideas. Each dance was critiqued over several weeks by faculty members.
The preparation process was not easy, due to several different factors.
“We had difficulties with time because we had several students who were in the dance also playing a part in [the] Fringe Festival that took place in Rochester,” said Mariah Maloney, the artistic director.
Each choreographer showed his or her own style in the dance. From the costume design to the choice of music, every song was original.
Each song had a meaning behind it and every choreographer showed a distinctive side of his or her personality with the choice of songs.
Akinjiola’s dance, “Mojuba,” was one of the more interesting pieces of the night due to the incorporation of live music and the choreographer being a part of her own dance routine.
“I had a skeleton of what I wanted to do,” said Akinjiola. “I wanted to incorporate three different dance techniques. I didn’t really have the whole picture together. I used inspiration from my dancers.”
Akinjiola was the only choreographer in the performance to be part of her own dance, which made things more difficult for her and her dancers.
“It got a little tricky. Mainly we videotaped it, then critiqued it,” said Akinjiola.
The main challenge for everyone involved in the production was keeping the audience happy and attentive to the dancers.
“We wanted to serve this dance as a meal with appetizers, main courses and dessert,” said Maloney.
Michelle Glynn, the choreographer for “XY Variables,” had a different situation on her hands — an all-male ensemble. Glynn did not let this slow her down.
“I was really intrigued by the concept of an all-male ensemble,” said Glynn. “I tried to focus on what it’s like to only have males and not have the dynamics between male and female.”
At first many choreographers know exactly what they want the end result of their dance to be, but Glynn said she did not.
“I absolutely did not have an idea on how I wanted it to develop,” she said. “For me, I’m interested in gender roles in dance — where they developed from and where they go.”
Dancers Sean Powell, Sebastian Solem and Roy Tracy all proved throughout the dance that a female presence is not necessary.
Choreographer Corina Ferro was put in a slightly different situation. At first, when she was creating her piece and working with her dancers, she was not aware the piece would be in the performance.
“When I’m choreographing, I’m focusing more on the relationships with the dancers and what’s going on in the moment,” said Ferro. “I don’t really think about the opportunity to share it with an audience.”
Ferro rehearsed in several different studios in Hartwell Hall that were much smaller than Strasser. With such late notice, one would think that the dancers would have a difficult time, but if that was the case, it did not show in the performance.
“When it does have the opportunity it’s more of an adjustment to the space and the lights and the costumes and just welcoming the audience into our world.”