Dance Ensemble rises to ”New Heights” in winter performance

Geneseo’s dance studies minor, offered through the department of theatre and dance, is small, but has an incredibly dedicated core of students and faculty. This weekend in the Alice S. Austin Theatre, Geneseo Dance Ensemble is putting on its first of two annual performances, titled “Rising to New Heights.”

The performance begins with “Ball Dance,” choreographed by professor of dance Jonette Lancos - who also serves as the show’s artistic director - and features students from DANC 230: Dance Kinesiology.

“Dance Ensemble is an academic course,” said Lancos in an email, “[It] requires a corequisite of enrollment in a dance technique course.”

Dance minor students perform in both large ensembles and small groups, as showcased in the first act.

“Illusions of Our Difference,” choreographed by senior Sydney Axelrod, rides along on the heavy beats of Lymbyc System’s “Narita,” as the few students on stage flow fluently.

“Persian Dances,” a duo of dances also directed by Lancos - with assistance from Shahin Monshipour, a cultural anthropologist - takes its cues from tradition and features some of the only male dancers of the night.

“I was so excited to use the medium of dance and music to teach people about the culture of Persia,” said Monshipour in a phone interview. “One of the dances is a classical, spiritual dance inspired by the poetry of Rumi while the other one reflects the nomadic life of tribal people of Iran.”

While the first act focuses on dances composed specifically for this performance, the second dips into the past. It involves prior compositions by visiting professor of dance and alumnus Mark Broomfield ‘94 and a 1945 Anton Dolin piece for ballerinas.

In both acts, however, there is a wonderful diversity in tempos, kinds of dance and manner of presentation.

“Our emphasis this academic semester has been to further strengthen our mission by emphasizing student creativity, performance and scholarly pursuits,” said Lancos.

Students are able to choreograph their own pieces only after they “have created a work in Orchesis, a scene in [Musical Theatre Club] or choreographed a musical on or off campus,” she added.

This repertoire of experience in outside performance brings a variety in direction to “Rising to New Heights.” Students choreographed six of the night’s 14 pieces and those dances provide the most interesting takes of the show.

Though members of GDE are not necessarily members of the department of theatre and dance, as enrollment in a dance class is the only true prerequisite, a number of students involved are members of the Alpha Psi Omega National Theatre and Dance Honor Society, and several are scholarship recipients.

The performances will run Dec. 6-8 at 8 p.m., and Dec. 9 at 2 p.m. in the Alice Austin Theatre. Tickets are $10 and available at the Student Association Ticket Office.