If you missed this year’s Evening of Dance, you truly missed a treasure. The department of dance has worked hard all year to produce an eight-piece show with a variety of dances showcasing not only the many talented dancers at Keene State College, but the dance department faculty and guest faculty as well. KSC dance faculty member Marcia Murdock said each year the dance department and professors look at students’ work from finals for dance classes as well as choreography class finals.
“We look for a spark or a gem of something that is worthy of working a whole other term,” Murdock said. One of the pieces was choreographed by Nii-Yartey, a guest teacher from Ghana. Murdock spoke highly of students in this piece because they often had to practice together without Nii present. Incorporating Nii’s piece of contemporary African dance was a great opportunity. “In this particular year we had a guest teacher from Ghana, so we wanted to incorporate his choreographic expertise and process into the concert, and we asked him what he wanted to do,” Murdock added.
She also said that dance professor William Seigh and her like to work together so they thought this might be the year. “Working together has always been a joy. It’s effortless. Two minds coming together for the creation of this piece,” Seigh said. In discussing the piece they created titled “Buildings,” Seigh said Murdock and he were surprised at how well the four different sections of the piece worked with each other even though they had no common movement vocabulary and some parts were created independently.
“We had a common theme; one common dancer and common music. We often will create phrases independently so that when we’re starting with a common theme they work well together. It seems to be the pattern,” Seigh added. Both professors spoke highly of all the dancers in ‘Evening of Dance,’ especially in terms of the students working well as both dancers and choreographers. Murdock said, “This group of dancers seemed very much committed to their choreographers, and the intention, which means the choreographer was very clear with their intention.” One ‘Evening’ dancer, junior Deirdre Lewis, who choreographed the piece “To Be of Three Minds,” said she sometimes struggled with working as the choreographer but also as a dancer in her piece.
“It was sometimes difficult to be able to watch and help guide my dancers when I needed to step in and be the dancer myself,” Lewis said. Lewis added, “Also, the transition from choreographer to dancer on stage was a struggle because I am constantly watching the piece as it progresses on stage as a choreographer when I should be 100 percent committed as a dancer at that point.” She added that her trust in her dancers enabled her to dance to the best of her abilities. “Thankfully I have a wonderful connection with my dancers and was able to trust them enough to perform this piece to its fullest potential and be a part of that world with them.” Another dance student, junior Riley Ahern, said she enjoyed being in Lewis’ piece. “Deirdre is one of my best friends so it is always a pleasure working with her. Her piece was one of the more dramatic pieces in the show and with the chocolate lighting and lace costumes it felt dreamy and fabulous to dance,” Ahern said. Ahern choreographed her own piece, “Windward,” which she said started off having four dancers, but later changed to become a seven- person piece after showcasing it at the Choreography showcase, and with a little persuasion from Murdock.
“Having the experience dancing in my own piece was wonderful. I really love all of my dancers and I thank them for their input and support through the year,” Ahern said. Additionally, Ahern said, “Every one of my dancers is unique and beautiful, which helped to make the piece unique.” She also praised Murdock and Seigh when she discussed what it was like working with them on “Buildings,” especially considering the piece was 25 minutes long. “You can learn so much about them through their movement. Because the piece was 25 minutes long, William and Marcia decided to start working with six of the 13 dancers in September. We have had many rehearsals and have worked so hard all year. It was worth it in the end, it always is,” Ahern said.
Freshman Maggie Leary said experiencing this dance ensemble has helped her grow and also learn so much in just her first year. “It started a whole new chapter in my dance life because it was a completely different style than I was used to and that’s great for me,” Leary said. “Being in the choreography showcase in the fall helped a lot because I was eased into the program, and it was a great way to start and end my freshman year as a dance major.” She also said she enjoyed performing each piece she was in and got very attached to the dances. “I loved each piece that I was in; I pretty much got emotionally attached to them as well as physically,” Leary added. Another freshman, Michelle Hayes, said dancing in ‘Evening of Dance’ lets her be who she really is as a dancer.
“When I perform, I feel like I can be who I am and not worry about anything else that’s going on in my life,” Hayes said. Hayes also said, “I liked being part of the show because I got to know more people within the theatre and dance department.” In addition, Hayes said, “I feel like when you spend so much time with the same people with a common passion you get to know each other better.” Seigh and Murdock both agreed that this group of dancers were very strong and talented. “I’ve heard a number of times from various audience members that the group as a whole is very talented, and that’s exciting when you’re sitting and watching and you can feel an ensemble that as both dance performers and as choreographers, they are strong.”
Lindsey Arceci can be contacted at email@example.com
For more photos from the event, go to www.keene-equinox.com.