Dancing through life: Carthage’s spring dance show stuns with a wide ranging sample of dance
The Theatre and Dance Department put on their annual spring concert show last weekend. This year’s concert was called “Imagine, Inspire, Illuminate,” and included works from Carthage faculty, students, and guests.
Director of the Dance Minor Stacy Pottinger, said that one of the great things about this show was the variety presented in it. The dances ranged from tap to ballet, Bollywood to traditional African. Pottinger praised the choreographers as well as the dancers in the concert, and is pleased with the work everyone put into the show. “It [presented] a wide range of processes and approaches to dance making that students are getting exposure to, as well as styles that are challenging them too, not only the style, but technically there are some really challenging movements.”
Pottinger named the show “Imagine, Inspire, Illuminate” as the dances come from choreographers’ imaginations, inspired dancers to challenge themselves mentally and physically and illuminate emotions for the audience by communicating through dance. She wanted to portray the important dancer-audience connection without naming the show something frilly, which could compromise the emotions of the darker pieces of work. “I knew that one of the works that I wanted to present… is a dark piece about the idea of urban isolation, so I didn’t want to put a happy title to a show that I knew had the ‘Rooms Etude’ in it. I had also had a conversation with one of our guest choreographers… and she had told me that she wanted to create a work about the stages of grieving. So I knew that we were going to go a little bit deeper into emotional landscapes with the works.” Although a few of the pieces were darker and more emotionally demanding, Pottinger had faith in the dancers’ abilities “to tap into emotional ideas… and to do that, they were going to have to make some personal connections to the works.”
Interspersed with the darker dances, which included Pottinger’s “Rooms Etude” and Adjunct Theatre Professor Faith Mitchell’s “Staging Reality” about the stages of grief, there were romantic, fun and a couple heartbreakingly sweet pieces. One of the most upbeat dances was a Bollywood number by Carissa Pearlman, ’13. Student works were chosen from the fall show, hand-picked as the pieces that had the most promise and room to flourish in the mostly-faculty spring show. Pearlman chose to do Bollywood because of the cultural richness and personal meaning of the style. “One of my old best friends… is Indian and I learned a lot of their dance styles… I kind of held on to those memories and I always had an appreciation for Indian dance.” Pearlman had been playing with the idea of choreographing a Bollywood piece since last spring, and even though she has been involved in past concerts as a dancer, this was her first choreography experience. She explained how different it is being on the other side of dance production, and said “It’s a lot more responsibility as a choreographer. You are responsible for your dancers… that they’re at rehearsals, and getting the moves down, and in terms of preparing for the show… I had to design costumes and lighting, and so that was a big change for me. When I was in the role of a dancer, that was all taken care of. Now, all the pressure is on me to make sure that the number is exactly how I want it.”
Another first-time choreographer and student Matthew Schaeflein, ’13, choreographed a piece with a combination of contemporary and “locking” (a subgroup of hip-hop). His tragic romance, called “The Ballad of Stone Hearts,” was about a statue given life by benevolent goddess moved by a woman’s love for him. The story ends bittersweet with the two lovers only able to be together forever as statues, gazing into each other’s stone eyes for eternity. Unlike many choreographers who think of a concept and pick the dance, music and dancers, Schaeflein’s piece picked him. “I heard the song, and sort of saw the story unfolding, and I could see the dance, I could see the movements, I could see images and that’s how I [work] backwards as a choreographer.”
Usually, the dance department only picks two student pieces for the spring concert, but this year, there were so many great pieces that three students were able to exhibit their dances. Kaitlin Lowry, ’12, also presented a piece, “Fourteen,” at the show. Lowry’s piece will also have the honor of being presented along with one of Pottinger’s pieces from last year at the American College Dance Festival (ACDF). This is Carthage’s first year partaking in the festival, and if the pieces are selected, Lowry and Pottinger have a chance of participating in the National College Dance Festival, an even higher honor. The ACDF will take place between March 28-April 1, and our choreographers will have Carthage’s support at the Festival.
This year’s show, which featured 11 dances, was an exquisite exhibit of Carthage’s dance department. The Dance minor is a relatively new addition to the school, and according to Schaeflein, “This program has really just exploded.” With more students, styles and choreographers every year, next year’s show promises to be even more spectacular than this year’s fantastic show.