UCDC fall dance concert to showcase student and professional work

Photo courtesy of Henry Gustafson

The show will feature choreography by students, faculty, and guest artists

Sarah Hojsak

sahojsak@ursinus.edu

The Ursinus College Dance Company, also known as UCDC, will present their fall dance concert this weekend.

According to a press release from UCDC, the fall dance concert “brings together faculty, professional guest artists, and students to create a vibrant evening of original dance performance.” The performances run Nov. 17 to 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the Lenfest Theater. There will be a reception in the Kaleidoscope lobby following each performance and a talk-back with the artists after the Nov. 17 show.

Each semester, UCDC strives to incorporate work from faculty, students, and professional artists into one cohesive performance. According to dance faculty member and producer of the show Jeanine McCain, “One of the greatest things we are able to offer through the UCDC experience is the opportunity for students to work closely with faculty and guest artists.”

“These artists model a professional level experience for the dancers… This truly challenes the dancers to rise to the occasion with a high level of personal responisbility and accountability for what they are contributing to the creative process,” McCain said.

“It’s great to see how much the student artists grow and define their own voice during the process,” she added.

Senior dance and media and communications major Jane Sutton, a student choreographer, is hard at work preparing for the concert. She will present her new piece, “Reticent,” which “explores how we as individuals silence our inner selves to accommodate social norms,” according to UCDC. She is working with ten student dancers to bring the piece, which is based on her own personal experiences, together.

According to Sutton, being a student choreographer has been a challenging but rewarding experience. She enjoyed working with student dancers, as she already knew most of them from her previous work with UCDC and other campus productions.

Sutton described the challenge of presenting her work alongside the work of professional choreographers. “For me the process was different because I had to work with the producer of the show [McCain] to make sure that it would be up to the level of a professional piece,” she said. “They’re trying to help me make the best piece I can to fit in with the other pieces from professionals, faculty and staff.”

Describing the inspiration for her piece, Sutton said, “Some of the movement I created in my piece came from past things that I’ve done and my everyday life … I didn’t really have a meaning for it when I first started creating; I just wanted to create a piece based on things I’ve seen.”

Sutton first became interested in choreography when she was young, but her innovative ideas were sometime at odds with her dance teachers. “When I was younger, in my dance studio at home, I would always be doing random things, and people would always question what I was doing … but I was always so confident in what I was doing,” she said. “I wanted to bring that in when I was creating [this piece].”

Sutton said that her personal experiences throughout her dance career helped shape the message of her choreography. “It kind of showed me that not everyone was accepting of all of the stuff I was creating when I was younger, and I was kind of silenced for it,” she said.

Sutton looks forward to presenting her piece to an audience. “I hope they enjoy the piece,” she said. “I want them to feel a personal connection to it, within the movement, and come up with their own meaning for the piece. I don’t want them to feel like it has to be [interpreted] a certain way; they can come out thinking whatever they want to think about [the meaning of] it.”

McCain agreed. “The wonderful thing about modern dance is that it invites the viewer to participate in the meaning-making of the art… there are no wrong answers when it comes to interpreting the performance,” she said.

Other student choreographers include James Daring ’18, Angela Bey ’19, and Jeniece Butts ’20, who have worked together to create an interdisciplinary piece that combines dance and spoken word. Guest choreographers include Joy French, professional guest artist in modern dance, and Lindsay Pierce, professional guest artist in ballet. Ursinus faculty member Melissa Chisena will also present a piece.

Student performers include James Daring, Angela Bey, Jeniece Butts, Brooke Moses, Megan Sear, Jane Sutton, Justine Cinalli, Abigail Wood, Alyssa Weber, Samantha Martin, Lexie Mastrangelo, Amanda Otto, Donnay Burden, Jordyn Karliner, Azanae Mahdi-Westcott, Megan Goldston, Rachel Glick, Danielle Jordan, Kelsey Jean-Baptiste, Jessica McFall, and Audrey Simpson.

Tickets are $5 for Ursinus students, faculty and staff, as well as senior citizens, and $8 for the general public. Visit ursinus.edu/tickets.