SU seniors ‘UnLeashed’
Posted: January 31, 2013
The Winchester Star
Winchester — Seven dance students will reveal the results of years of hard work and ambition this weekend with Shenandoah Conservatory’s annual senior dance concert.
“UnLeashed” will feature group and solo numbers choreographed or performed by the dance division’s Class of 2013. Because of the size of the class and the number of dances, they have been divided into two programs, said Elysia Greene, 21, one of the seniors.
Program A will perform at 8 p.m. Friday and 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Ohrstrom-Bryant Theatre, and Program B’s shows will be at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the same venue.
“The senior concert is the culmination of work you have put into at Shenandoah for four years,” Greene said. “It is showing all of your technique, showmanship, mastering your craft, and choreography.”
Each student has two pieces in the show — a dance they choreographed featuring other dancers and a solo piece they perform. They also perform one dance together as a senior class.
Senior Sean Miller, 23, will not perform his solo or be in the senior group dance because he is still recovering from knee surgery.
“Green Arrow” is the group performance featuring the six remaining seniors and will be performed at all four performances, said Amy Merl, 21, a senior. The group asked Erica Gionfriddo, an SC alumna, to choreograph the modern dance piece last fall.
Gionfriddo, who is the associate artistic director of ARCOS Dance Co. in Santa Fe, N.M., and her artistic director, Curtis Uhlemann, came for a weekend in November to put the show together, Merl said.
“They came with some choreography, but they were also inspired by us, so they continued to add to it once they got here,” she said.
For the individual shows, the seniors were responsible for every aspect of their group pieces — from choosing costumes to setting lighting to choreographing the dance, Merl said. They can either choreograph their own solo performance or ask someone else to do it.
Merl had a 2012 dance alumna, Lauren Carnesi, choreograph her solo piece. The contemporary dance is indicative of her upbeat personality and much lighter than many of the show’s other pieces, she said.
“My concept is me obliviously dancing in the street of my favorite city, which is taken from real life,” she said. “I am a happy person.”
For both her solo and group performances, Greene said she was inspired by Cirque du Soleil. Her solo, “Grounded,” includes her working on aerial silks before bringing her dance to the ground. Her group piece, “Illuminate,” depicts a Neverland tale of creatures and far-away lands.
“For my group piece, I went all out and I got a costume designer to design each costume based on the character,” she said. “Everyone has full out costumes and makeup.”
In her self-choreographed solo, “Scent,” senior Liza Rachford, 21, embraces the difficulties in letting go and moving forward despite personal fears. It represents her own emotions, but she hopes audience members “can see it as anything in their life they are struggling to let go of and move forward from.”
For her group piece, “Picking Up the Pieces,” senior Wanda Christian, 21, created a jazz piece that shows how individuals work together but function on their own. She didn’t have a concept when she started choreographing, but said it developed as she watched her dancers.
“I was looking for move movements that were sharp and eye-catching,” she said.
Senior Michelle LoBrace, 22, said her group piece, “How Small,” examines spirituality and faith within one’s world and how a single thought can become all-consuming. The piece will also be performed Feb. 20 in New York City as part of NYC10, a dance initiative for emerging artists.
Miller said his group piece, “Ambivalence,” has more of a storyline, examining “how society sees androgynous men and how that affects them.”
Because of his knee, he will perform his solo piece April 20 and 21 with the Goose Roots Arts Collaborative at Shepherd University.
Senior Marlys Anwah, 21, did something different than her classmates by having her group piece transition into her solo without pause.
The work, “Real World,” is comprised of two segments. The group piece shows how individuals sift through the emotions caused by situations in their life. The solo part, which she choreographed with dance professor Maurice Fraga, is about the discovery of oneself through others.
The seniors’ dance pieces were divided into two programs because of length, Merl said. “They were scheduled so a senior’s solo and group performances are in the same show, but each program has a balance of emotion and accounts for dancers’ schedules and visiting family members.”
The Shenandoah Conservatory senior dance concert, “UnLeashed,” will be divided into two shows and performed in the Ohrstrom-Bryant Theatre. Program A is at 8 p.m. Friday and 2:30 p.m. Saturday, and Program B is at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15 for adults, $14 for seniors, and $10 for students and active military. Call 877-580-8025 or go to conservatoryperforms.org.
— Contact Laura McFarland at firstname.lastname@example.org