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Student choreographers earn time in spotlight at Seton Hill

| Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
Students (from left) Alena Barlock, Lucy Firment, Heather Mirenzi, and Jamie Corbett rehearse for the Fall Dance Concert at Seton Hill University.
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Students (from left) Alena Barlock, Lucy Firment, Heather Mirenzi, and Jamie Corbett rehearse for the Fall Dance Concert at Seton Hill University.

Six student choreographers and dancers will present their original works for the first time as part of Seton Hill University's annual Fall Dance Concert.

Jamie Corbett, Adriana LaMantia, Heather Long, Sydney Molter, Amber Riggin and Megan Vichich will showcase their efforts in three performances Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 at Seton Hill Performing Arts Center in Greensburg.

“Each piece presents the vision of a student choreographer who has, with their company of dancers, worked hard throughout the semester to develop and hone their work with the guidance of faculty mentors. The event promises to be entertaining, energetic and thought-provoking,” says Kellee Van Aken, director of Seton Hill's Theatre and Dance Program.

The program also will feature pieces by faculty members TaMara Swank and Stefan Zubal.

Corbett, a junior dance performance and choreography major from Pittsburgh, will debut “Loving, Goodbye,” a piece that she says tells a story about moving on from a relationship.

Her work comprises three sections that focus on being completely reliant on a past relationship, slowly getting away from the relationship and complete freedom.

“My piece features four dancers who each have a chair that they use during the course of the dance that represents the relationship,” she says. “My goal for creating the piece was to create something meaningful and relatable that would evoke emotion in the audience.”

Her biggest challenge was not with her dancers, but with their chairs.

“Anytime you incorporate a prop into a piece, it is a challenge — and using the chairs was no different,” she says. “I had a hard time tying the chairs into the story I wanted to tell, but in the end, I think everything came together perfectly.”

Vichich, a junior dance choreography, pedagogy and performance major from Cranberry, will debut her piece, “I See Fire,” about a community of people pulled apart due to their fear of a dragon.

“My goal in creating this piece was to bring something unique to the Seton Hill stage,” she says. “Since it was based off the movie ‘The Hobbit,' my dancers had to tap into a different way of thinking and moving so they could tell the story properly.”

Swank's “A Chorus Line” is based on the Broadway musical, and Zubal's dance focuses on the theme of empathy featuring music by Marvin Gaye and Aretha Franklin.

“My work comes out of a new class for our program, Experiencing Dance and Performance, which is intended for our incoming freshman class and new dance minors,” Zubal says. Portions of his piece were featured in a show at Seton Hill, “What's Going On: Artists as Activists” and his dance was also part of The Westmoreland Museum of American Art's “Art of Moving” event.

Swank says her piece, created with musical theater student Taylor Puc as associate choreographer, requires a combination of technique, precision and character work.

“The challenge with this type of work is condensing a musical that typically spans up to two hours into a 12 to 15 minute dance piece,” she says.

Swank has choreographed many works for Seton Hill, including “Man in the Mirror,” the opening performance for the university's Martin Luther King Jr. educational event earlier this year.

Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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