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SMC student dancers perform in annual ensemble

| Sunday, February 9, 2014

“Live, Love, Dance” was the theme of this year’s annual Dance Ensemble Workshop, which highlighted 13 student dancers Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings in O’Laughlin Auditorium.

The program, presented by the Saint Mary’s Department of Communication Studies, Dance, and Theatre, included pieces choreographed by Saint Mary’s faculty members Laurie Lowry and Michele Kriner and guest artists Marlayna Locklear and Sarah Edgar.

Lowry said the event has taken place at Saint Mary’s for more than 33 years. The dances highlight the many facets of the College’s dance program, bringing together examples of both modern dance and classical ballet, she said.

“We have a group of dancers who come to us and have studied ballet for a long time and they’re quite proficient, and then we have dancers who don’t have ballet background but more modern,” Lowry said. “Trying to blend those into one big piece and give everyone a chance to showcase what they can do. … I wanted the dancers to know what it felt like to be in a larger work that has a story to tell.”

Lowry choreographed the first act, “Alice’s Adventures,” while collaborating with her students. She based the piece on Lewis Carroll’s classic story “Alice in Wonderland.”

“I usually walk into rehearsal and everything is thought out, but with “Alice” I walked into the space and I said all I have is this script,” she said. “And I played the music, looked at the dancers, and we built it together.”

The complete performance combined multi-layered efforts by costume designer Melissa Bialko, technical director Michaela Duffy, lighting designer Catherine Cislo and artwork by senior Abby Kramer, Lowry said.

The second act included “Magnifique,” choreographed by Lowry and “So Pretty in the Sky” and “On Any Monday…,” both choreographed by dance professor Michele Kriner. Guest artist Marlayna Locklear choreographed “At the End of the Day,” a contemporary-modern style dance. Guest artist Sarah Edgar choreographed “Tourbillon,” a historical piece with roots in eighteenth century Baroque dance.

“[Edgar] used 18th century geometric floor patterns to use in the dance, but she hasn’t used necessarily baroque steps,” Lowry said. “She also used 18th century goddess statues … and then she also took 17th century acting gestures and really incorporated that into the dance. And the last section of the dance is a contemporary phrase that she created.”

Senior dancer Bethany Tabor said the opportunity to work on the piece with Edgar during an intensive weekend was a fantastic experience.

“She brought a lot of new context to our company,” Tabor said. “I think new experiences, [such as] having a guest choreographer really broadens our experience overall.”

Freshman Adrienne Bruggeman said she particularly enjoyed guest artist Locklear’s “At the End of the Day.” The hip-hop piece utilized eight girls and created amazing effects through opposing motions and formations, she said.

Bruggeman said she also enjoyed Kriner’s contemporary modern “On Any Monday…,” which allowed dancers to improvise around a set framework.

“I was blown away when the girls created an apparently seamless performance without meticulous direction,” Bruggeman said. “For me, it was hard to draw the line between what was planned ahead and what was the creation of the students.”

Lowry said dancers began preparing for the performances in September. During the dances, she said she wanted her students to embrace the experience that truly belongs to them.

Tabor, who danced in a number of pieces including the role of Alice, said she was happy with the success of the performances.

“Dance is just such a part of who I am,” she said. “I’ve been doing it my whole life and I can’t really let it go, because it’s so intrinsic to my very being.”

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About Kathryn Marshall

Kathryn Marshall, Saint Mary's College '17, is a Biology and Humanistic Studies double major. Follow Kathryn on Twitter @kmarshallSMC

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