Seton Hill student choreographers promise thought-provoking dances
TaMara Swank, assistant professor of dance at Seton Hill University, knows what a valuable experience it is for dance students to create an original dance piece from concept to completion.
“A goal for the student choreographers is to challenge themselves to stay true to their concept or idea during the creative process,” she says. “They also have the opportunity to work with a professional production team throughout the process.”
The university’s Fall Dance Concert Nov. 22-24 at Seton Hill Performing Arts Center in Greensburg will showcase eight works choreographed by Seton Hill dance majors and one piece set by the freshman class of dance majors and minors.
“The audience is sure to experience intriguing, creative and thought-provoking performances,” Swank says.
Learning to perform is a different skill set from taking classes and rehearsing regularly, according to the Theatre and Dance Program faculty member.
Dancers bring choreographers’ vision to life
“As I visit rehearsals and watch the process, I am incredibly impressed by the professionalism of the student choreographers, but I am equally impressed by the work ethic of the students cast in the pieces. They are all working incredibly hard to bring the choreographer’s vision to life,” Swank says.
Heather Mirenzi of Plum, a junior dance pedagogy and choreography major, created a lyrical-style contemporary dance titled “Stars Form Arrows,” about the desire to break free and seek new adventure.
“The idea for the piece formed when a friend sent me lyrics to a song he was writing. I asked if he would develop it into a song that I could create choreography for and use in this dance concert,” she says, adding that the process has been a great experience for her in preparing for a career as a dance educator and choreographer.
Shelby Walsh, a junior dance performance, pedagogy and choreography major from Moon Township, will present her contemporary pointe trio, “Tides,” inspired by layering in the music that reminded her of the way waves layer in on themselves to create their overall shape.
She overcame a challenge of reconfiguring the number of dancers she planned to use “basically on the spot” to accommodate those that were available during the casting process, and says “while this piece is not what I initially imagined it to be, I am extremely proud of what it has turned out to become.”
Elizabeth Miller of Pittsburgh, a senior dance major with a choreography focus, created “Colors on the Horizon,” which incorporates improvisation in three movements, a technique she learned in classes she took as a stage craft apprentice with the American Dance Festival in Durham, N.C. last summer.
“It was a bit of a risk to tell my dancers that I would not be teaching them 100 percent of the dance and that we were going to build a lot of it together,” she says. “I think the direction I pursued in this was a good introduction to improv partnering for my dancers and was an experiment for me as a choreographer.”
Other students whose choreography will be featured in the concert include Madyson Baer, Angela Emanuele, Michele Gala, Brooke Kelly, Haley Wilt, and Shane Wiseman and the Class of 2024.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.