Rather than showcase student work through posters or speeches like many other academic disciplines, the department of theatre and dance highlighted its students’ work on Geneseo Recognizing Excellence, Achievement and Talent Day fittingly through performances. Nestled in the generally quiet halls of Brodie Hall on Tuesday April 21, interested members of the community were able to enter the usually closed doors of the dance studio. “Performing our student-choreographed dances on G.R.E.A.T. Day gave us a chance to share our artistic work with the campus community in a more intimate setting at the Brodie dance studio,” choreographer senior Justine Lazatin said.
In DANC 331: Dance Composition I, students are challenged to create a dance of their own concept and design. These individuals are assigned a faculty mentor whom they meet with once a week in order to go over and tweak parts of their dance. These presentations were representations of a semester’s worth of work for the choreographers, as well as the dancers. “The hardest part of this process was realizing that you can’t become attached to any work that you had done,” choreographer senior Megan Roberts said.
With dancers dressed down in rehearsal clothing, the performances began with Lazatin’s contemporary jazz piece “Letters to Heroines.” This explored the idea of taking “one step forward and two steps back” both figuratively in life and in the physical dance.
The performance then moved on to “Ciklus”—choreographed by senior Keriann Dengos. “The title means “cycle” in Bosnian,” Dengos explained. Dengos added that this contemporary modern dance focused on the idea that “those that have no knowledge of the past are destined to repeat it.” The dance also exuded a strong emphasis on women’s issues.
Afterwards, Roberts’ “Sonder” was performed. Roberts explained that this work focused on the exploration of disconnection in society, and was inspired by the idea of consent in human interactions. She noted that “Sonder” refers to the realization that each random passerby lives their own complex lives. In the work, the dancers go out of their way to engage with each other.
Senior Lisa Cordara finished with “La Belle Epoque.” In this work, Cordara incorporated her experience as a French major to explore the cultural dynamic of life in Paris in the 1920s.
Lazatin emphasized that choreographing is no easy feat. “When dances are performed on stage, the audience is really removed from the process of creating a dance, only seeing the finished end product,” she said. “What they don't always realize is the sweat, the imperfections and the editing that goes on before that finished dance is performed.”
Among the attendees of the presentation was Chief Justice of Ghana Georgina Wood, as well as her husband. “It was such an honor to be able to perform and share our love for the arts with the Chief Justice of Ghana,” Lazatin said.
After the presentations, the floor was open for questions and discussions. “Our in-studio performances on G.R.E.A.T. Day were a lot more raw,” Lazatin said. “The discussion afterwards gave the audience the chance to more deeply understand the process.”
The benefits of dance as an academic minor or concentration coinciding with a larger area of study were also discussed.
“Dance is an extremely important and unique area of study on the Geneseo campus because it encompasses students with diverse majors and interests,” dance minor sophomore Brynn Davie said. “All of the dancers, professors and guest artists combine their areas of expertise to create new and meaningful work throughout the school year. Geneseo dance students experience the endless possibilities of our art through classes, shows, research, choreographic opportunities and collaborations.”