By Florianne Jalac
Just last month, I traveled with 24 other students to represent our college at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR). Since my sophomore year, I have watched friends and fellow dancers travel to present their work at various places across the country, so I was very excited to be one of eight students representing the Department of Dance at the University of Kentucky: Lexington (despite a nine hour trek each way via coach bus).
The first official day of the conference was exciting and certainly my favorite. Too excited to find out what the small dance research community at NCUR had to offer, I began my day with at the Performing Arts Session I. I was gratefully spoiled with a chance to not only support Brockport dancer Emma Coombs performing her solo, “Rumination”, but also two other dance presentations from George Mason University and University of Texas at El Paso. “A Voice Through Dance”, presented by UTX student Bianca Gomez, questioned socio-geographical significance to personal and collective empathy in relation to Anna Sokolow’s solo “Escape From Rooms”, and left my fellow Brockport dancers and me in deep discussion over how beautiful both her performance and research was. Much to my surprise and delight, I later discovered that her advisor was Andrea Vasquez, Brockport MFA alum who I remember from my first semester of freshman year – what a small world, especially as a dancer!
Rather than going back to the hotel with many of the other students, I chose to stick around and see as many interesting presentations as possible until our second Brockport dancer of the day, Sarah Elardo, presented her solo later that afternoon. I was drawn into a presentation on dance loops by Utah Valley University. The dancer was center stage, flanked by two large video screens on either side of her; as she danced, her movement was recorded in set durations, then played back with some visual manipulations through a projector onto the screens. As someone investigating looping of the audio variety for my senior solo, I found this presentation especially interesting. I also got a chance to see presentations in Media Studies, which is related to my second major – my favorite of these was definitely an analysis of the physical appearance of antagonists and protagonists in classic Disney films, which related stereotypically attractive features to the goodness of a character.
On the second day of the conference, I was in full preparation-mode as I geared up for my own presentation. To my surprise, several people other than my trusty Brockport dancers came to hear my research on how the camera angles and Jack Cole’s choreography in the scene “Ain’t Anyone Here For Love” from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes frame Jane Russell’s seemingly strong female character as supporting stereotypical gender inequality. As a whole, the presentation went well, and I even got to answer a spectator’s question on my research with a reference to the movie Frozen. Success!
As we journeyed back to Brockport at lunchtime the next day, I couldn’t help but be very proud of our Brockport community, and our presence at the conference. Though filled with far too much rest stop fast food and far too little authentic Kentucky fried chicken, the 2014 NCUR trip was a memorable experience that I’m thankful to have had during my final semester at Brockport.