When considering different ways to tell a story, the first things that come to mind might involve film, literature or even art. The Geneseo Dance Ensemble proved that dance is another compelling way to tell a story from Thursday April 19 to Sunday April 22.
The show entitled “Geneseo Dance Ensemble Dancing Past to Present: Celebrating Fifty Years,” showcased 50 years of the dance program at Geneseo. Alumni who partook in the program during their years at Geneseo were invited back to the college for the event.
Each dance was themed around routines put on by the Geneseo program over the years, from dances inspired by the fifties to dances choreographed this year. Alumni performed as well, often in solo performances. The night also included a culminating alumni and student performance, “Energy Fusion,” directed by artistic director, curator, producer of GDE and professor of dance studies Jonette Lancos.
This celebration began with a video clip reviewing the history of dance in Geneseo, and another discussing the events for the 50th anniversary.
“The 50th anniversary celebration is really a reunion where alumni have been invited to make dances and to come and perform in our concert,” Lancos said. “I feel dance has become really a part of the college fabric now.”
The first half of the show involved moving alumni performances. Alumna and adjunct instructor of dance studies Jody DeLoria ’94 performed a dance called “#HerToo.” Audio of an interview with Marilyn Monroe played in the background to create a solemn, quiet mood.
Naina Dewan ’95 presented “In Gratitude,” a video of her dance company’s performance and a thank you message addressed to the Geneseo dance program for giving her the support she needed to pursue her dreams.
An intriguing spoken performance was delivered by Shelly De Vito ’93 alongside her dance titled, “Á Distance.” More lighthearted dances from alumni followed to demonstrate the wide range of performances possible at Geneseo.
“Songs from the Hebrides,” choreographed in 1951 by late assistant professor Nona Schurman, showed the roots of the GDE. The approach to the choreography was traditional compared to dances such as “Fiefdom” by Melanie Aceto ’95 which were more abstract and modern. This contrast brought the beauty of the anniversary to light.
The highlight of the show was the highly complex, deeply narrative performance “Anthem,” choreographed by associate director of GDE and assistant professor of dance studies Mark Broomfield. The electrifying dance was performed by current Geneseo students and was dedicated to Pulse nightclub, which experienced a deadly mass shooting in 2016, according to the program.
“What I think makes Geneseo so special is that it’s a small program doing big things,” Broomfield said.
This event lived up to Broomfield’s sentiments. The music switched frequently, from club-like dance songs accompanied by energetic dancing to more somber numbers like Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song” in which dancers circled the audience with lit candles.
Business major freshman Lauren Hummel, a performer in “Anthem,” was touched by her experience with the alumni.
“It’s really great to see all of them come back, especially in my first semester in GDE,” Hummel said. “I was very inspired by a lot of them to keep dancing and keep doing what I love.”
The night ended fittingly as current students of the dance ensemble dipped back into tradition. The message remained true to the power of the past and the bright hope that Geneseo has for a future in dance.