Updated: Nov 15, 2020
If you attended The SU Dance Company’s virtual fall recital last weekend, you were no doubt blown away by the passion, creativity and talent of all involved.
The SU Dance Company consists of incredible student dancers and choreographers who’ve taken dance courses at SU throughout the Fall 2020 semester.
Under the direction of artistic director Helen Myers, SU dance students spent this semester perfecting dances that illustrated social issues students were passionate about.
This was in correlation with the recital’s theme and title: “Socially Conscious; Socially Distanced.”
At the beginning of the performance, viewers were introduced to dancers and choreographers through a series of short videos, each containing social issues students wished to portray through their performances.
Dances within the recital were filled with passion, reflecting on a multitude of social issues ranging from mental health to the COVID-19 pandemic to racism.
The dances relayed powerful messages, messages which roamed the minds of viewers long after the performances were over.
The recital consisted of live and pre-recorded dances that could be viewed virtually.
During live performances, the stage was lit with the inspiration and creativity of SU students, and you could instantly tell each dancer genuinely enjoyed expressing themselves through dance.
Each performance was an opportunity, an opportunity to create change and bring awareness to important, prevalent issues in our world today which is incredibly admirable.
Bryette Washington, a junior majoring in theatre production, demonstrated her talents as a student choreographer.
Washington, with the help of dancer Kamryn Tross, created a dance called, "Beauty Within" which focused on empowering African American Women.
“I really wanted it to get the audience’s attention, especially women of color, African American women. Because even still, in today’s society, black women are criticized by how dark their skin is. So, I wanted it [the dance] to be something to uplift women of color, especially black women,” Washington reflected.
The dance was choreographed to spoken poetry by Amaiya McNiel, and the choreography was beautifully synchronized to the poem’s rhythm.
Washington and Tross not only created a beautiful dance but delivered an inspirational message to the audience that was truly memorable.
Jillian Crosby, a junior interdisciplinary study major in dance and marketing management, is another member of the SU Dance Company who greatly contributed to the recital’s success.
Crosby had choreographed a dance for Kate Carpenter called, Overexposed, as featured above. The dance focused on the importance of mental health awareness.
Crosby’s choreography was particularly interesting as gym chalk was used to create visual effects when combined with colorful stage lighting.
“The chalk was supposed to represent the mental illness and how it can spread throughout someone’s body."
By tossing the chalk into the air, vivid clouds of color would burst above Carpenter as she danced, further emphasizing symbols and phrases spoken throughout the dance.
Crosby herself wrote, spoke and added music for Carpenter to dance to.
“I wrote it and spoke it myself — so it was very personal for me.”
The talent and effort displayed throughout the recital was very impressive, especially considering the challenge of airing a recital during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In preparation for the recital, Crosby recalled the extensive measures dancers followed to keep themselves and each other safe:
“We have air filters in the room, and we have to dance with masks on which is incredibly hard. We had to take care of and clean our studio every time we used it. Disinfect everything. There’s a lot of new rules, and we could only dance a half an hour and then we would have to go outside for fifteen minutes before we could come back in again.”
These precautions were followed throughout the semester, even during the recital.
“Between each live dance, we had to disinfect the stage, so we could dance … it was a little bit of a rush, but we were just lucky we got to dance,” Crosby added.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, SU Dance Company members delivered a performance of the highest quality.
Soloists encompassed emotions of passion and forward thinking.
However, what was most impressive was the recital’s finale, a pre-recorded group dance called Take Two Knees.
A beautifully eerie clarinet solo, performed by Anthony McGill, set the tone for a dance of reflection.
Socially distanced dancers entered the camera frame, wearing identical masks and dresses, dancing in unison.
The final movement of the dance consisted of each dancer taking two knees which, according to Crosby, symbolized peaceful protests, speaking out against racism.
The tone, mood and execution of the piece was incredibly moving, and I was touched to see such passionate students portray an issue that is so relevant and important to our generation.
The SU Dance company truly created a beautiful collection of art that was not only engaging but inspirational.
By OLIVIA BALLMANN
Featured Images by Jillian Crosby and Emily Rapposelli.