A Day in the Life of a DOVA Summer Residency Student

This summer our students traveled all over the world, but some decided to stay close to home and enjoyed the opportunity to dance with truly amazing artists.  Here, 2nd-year MFA candidate Marissa Aucoin shares her experience at the Doug Varone & Dancers Summer Residency (DOVA).  Keep an eye out throughout the semester as students continue to share their summer adventures!

By Marissa Aucoin

When confronted with the task of sharing my experiences during the Doug Varone and Dancers Summer Residency, I did not know where to begin. Being fully immersed in movement and related practices for three full weeks left a lot to be discussed, so much so that I began to doubt whether they could be properly presented within a single blog entry. I thought long and hard and decided to invite you all to experience a day in the life of a DOVA summer residency student.

The day starts off with an optional 8:00am Pilates class taught by company member Casey Loomis. Even though it is optional, there are another twenty plus students in the class who are eager to absorb as much information as they can. Each day, Casey takes us through a series of exercises designed to target specific muscle groups that will both strengthen and prepare our bodies for the work that lies ahead.

With invigorated muscles and centered minds we transition into the next class, technique. The workshop is structured so that every two days the technique instructor changes, allowing students to experience a variety of approaches to Varone’s work. Each company member has their own means of investigating the signature weighted swing of the arms and similar movement principles. As a student, you are able to enter the work from multiple perspectives and discover which is best suited for your body.

After technique, students rotate to phrase work. This is the time when overwhelming amounts of material are thrown at you and you have the challenge of physicalizing that material attempting to pick up as many details as possible. Like technique, each company member has their own teaching strategy, though many began by showing chunks of material without uttering a single word. In these moments students are able to absorb information without the influence of language to shape their understanding and interpretation. You leave the class with a stronger understanding of your individual learning style and artistic voice.

Finally, time for lunch! While students disperse to reenergize for the second half of the day there are several who choose to stick around and watch the company’s open rehearsal. This glimpse into the world of Varone’s company and creative process provides a lovely dose of creative stimulation to go along with your hummus and crackers.

Now that we have had time to digest, it’s onto improvisation or ballet. Students have the opportunity to take both classes over the three week intensive, one week of ballet, one of improvisation, and the final week is on a rotating schedule. Both classes support the work being done throughout the workshop as they emphasize body awareness, individual artistry, as well as a holistic movement approach.

The final class of the day is repertory. Upon registering for the intensive, students have the opportunity to choose between Large Rep, New Rep, Exploring Excerpts, and Dance Film. I decided to take Exploring Excerpts. In this class, we learn smaller sections from multiple pieces choreographed at different points in Varone’s career. Between Possession (1994), Bench Quartet (1986), and Let’s Dance (1996), we are challenged to embody the tone and intention specific to each work. Embodying these diverse works gives us a broader understanding of the Varone repertory and allows students to recognize how his work has and will continue to change.

While this overview shares an outline of the structure of the intensive, what is difficult to translate onto paper is the atmosphere created by this collection of dedicated and inspiring artists – both students and company members alike. This supportive environment encouraged everyone involved to investigate and share their personal discoveries in a safe, judgment free space that valued the individual artistry of each participant. It was truly an inspiring three weeks.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Upcoming Performances for Fall 2014

This semester Brockport’s Department of Dance continues to present several opportunities for you to see some wonderful dancing.  Here’s the performances to come – keep an eye out for more information regarding upcoming events throughout the semester!

Duets Project
Thursday, Sept. 4 & Friday, Sept. 5, 2014 at 7:30pm
Hartwell Dance Theater

DANCE/Strasser
Thursday – Saturday, Sept. 11-13, 2014 at 7:30pm
Rose L. Strasser Studio

DANCE/Hartwell
Thursday – Saturday, Oct. 16-18, 2014 at 7:30pm
Hartwell Dance Theater

DANSCORE
Thursday & Friday, Nov. 13-14, 2014 at 7:30pm
Hartwell Dance Theater
Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 at 7:30pm
Hochstein Performance Hall
50 North Plymouth Avenue, Rochester

New Dancers Showcase
Friday & Saturday, Nov. 21 & 22, 2014 at 7:30pm
Rose L. Strasser Studio

Dime-a-Dance
Wednesday & Thursday, Dec. 3 & 4, 2014 at 7:30pm
Rose L. Strasser Studio

For more information check out the Department of Dance website here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Students Attend the National Conference on Undergraduate Research!

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Summer Study 2014

By Colleen Culley

When I was an undergraduate dance major summers were pivotal times of growth as I got to participate in dance festivals, meet dancers and choreographers from around the world, stage manage main-stage shows, and see and do kinds of dance I had only read about. Between festivals and courses I found work often in dance where I could explore my own pedagogical identity. It has been a delight to hear about what current majors have planned for their upcoming summers, many are following similarly exciting pathways.

Emilie Gerst, Morgan Hasson, Jordan Lloyd, and Chloe London will be going to the American Dance Festival as full time students! Kayla McNabb will also be going the American Dance Festival working as a stagecraft apprentice and taking two dance classes held at the festival in the mornings!

Alexis Hills will be heading to Bates Dance Festival!

Jasmine Perez will be a counselor for camp Danbee in Hinsdale Massachusetts, a girls fitness camp. As a counselor and a fitness instructor she will be teaching classes in yoga, modern, ballet, and zumba. She is so excited to travel and meet people from all over the world and share new experiences with people that share a passion to teach and work with the youth.

Jeneé Skinner will be working at the Drake Memorial Library and attending the Doug Varone Intensive hosted by the College at Brockport.

Chelsea Spraker will be working with the New York State Summer School of the Arts this summer, within their modern dance program. It’s a great program for high school students to gain pre-professional experiences. Even cooler, PBS is doing a documentary / movie on NYSSSA this summer! Chelsea will work with students as a counselor and mentor, as she did the program herself when she was in high school!

Haley Zdebski will be jumping into her first job after graduation! She will be going to work in Connecticut this summer as a senior staff member and instructor at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy, for ages 9-14 associated with the Russian American Foundation.

Now as a graduate student my summers have changed, but still include a great deal of ‘getting out there’. I will be traveling to Edinburgh, Scotland for the Bill Evans Teacher Intensive and then to Salt Lake City, UT, to teach as faculty at Integrated Movement Studies. My graduate student colleagues are also planning some pretty cool summers. Here is a sampling:

Marissa Aucoin, Morgan Bernat, and Samantha Johnson will be staying the Rochester area to work intensely on a collaborative show for Rochester’s 2014 Fringe Festival.

Daniel Reichert will be traveling to Salt Lake City, UT, to the Integrate Movement Studies Certificate Program in Laban Movement Analysis. He is excited about how the graduate level certificate program can support his research and teaching of Capoeira.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Scholars Day 2014

Scholars Day was recently held at The College at Brockport on April 9th. MFA candidates, Bethany Good and Samantha Johnson, each took time to write about their experiences that day. Bethany Good discussed viewing the presentations of her peers, while Samantha Johnson talked to graduate student, Morgan Bernat about what is was like to present a written paper and choreographic showing. Check it out below:

______________________________________________________________

By Bethany Good

In addition to the opportunity to present your own work, Scholars Day allows students and faculty to see what others around campus are working on.  This year I was able to not only present a paper and perform a self-choreographed solo, but also witness amazing choreography from others and hear intelligent and thoughtful papers from my peers.

My day started out with listening to senior BFA Brett Cox in his presentation Beyond the Skirts:  An In-depth Look at Gender Roles and Sterotypes Associated with Western Concert Dance.  He asked us to question what we think of as masculine or feminine, and instead look at performers as humans who, although living through different experiences, have the same basic emotions.  To enhance his words, Cox presented a duplicate showing of his choreographic work Echoes, the first showing with an all-male cast and the second with an all-female cast.  Cox asked his audience to consider how the different casts affected the movement, bringing to life emotions rather than masculinity or femininity.

In a later session senior Caitlin Mahon presented her senior honors thesis:  The Dance of Politics:  All for One and None for All.”  Mahon shared her research process of politics and the distribution of power.  This was followed by her choreographic thesis, a work comprised of strong dancers and performers, bringing Mahon’s research to life through the divide of two groups.  These two groups clearly demonstrated one as more oppressive, holding more power than the other.

These two snippets represent just a couple snapshots of what the dance department presented this year during Scholars Day.  Other presentations included MFA thesis works, a recap of the NDEO Dance 2050 conference, and papers bringing research sources to life.

_______________________________________________________________

By Samantha Johnson

Samantha Johnson (SJ): What did you enjoy most about your experience at Scholars Day?
Morgan Bernat (MB): I enjoyed the experience of sharing my work with an audience that wasn’t all dance people. I especially enjoyed showing my work in progress because I feel like there is always this finished product shine that work has when it is performed. I enjoyed the experience of exposing a large audience of dancers and non-dancers to the roughness that is a work in progress.

SJ: Did you enjoy the experience of being an active participant?
MB: I did enjoy this experience because it pushed me to understand how I can speak to dancers and non-dancers in a cohesive and effective way. I had to be especially careful in the breakdown of what I was talking about and I enjoyed the challenge of finding new ways to describe my choreographic work and my research.

SJ: What part of Scholars Day had the largest impact on you as a graduate student?
MB: I feel like I don’t have the opportunity to talk about my research that often. I talk about dance making much more frequently and it is something I am comfortable with. This was a great opportunity to get more comfortable talking about my research in a professional setting. It taught me a lot about who I am as a presenter of research in addition to my creative presentations.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Getting to Know Ed Rice!

By Angie Muzzy

Recently, I sat down with visiting Guest teacher, Ed Rice to discuss his journey to Hartwell Hall. Ed currently dances with Alexandra Beller (www.alexandrabellerdances.org), Third Rail Projects (http://thenshefell.com/), and Punch Drunk’s Sleep No More (http://www.sleepnomore.com/#share). When he is not performing with these projects on the weekend, you can find Ed teaching Modern Technique and Intermediate Composition here at The College at Brockport.

The following are a few of the many questions I asked, however, I encourage everyone to take a moment and have conversation with Ed while he’s here!

Angie Muzzy (AM): How did you meet Karl? (Here’s some context, Ed is currently filling in for Assistant Professor Karl Rogers, while Karl is performing with David Dorfman Dance in Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan).

Ed Rice (ER): Karl and I met in 2007 through the David Dorfman Dance work, The Underground, and we have performed together with Heidi Henderson, and in other various projects. We have mutual friends, and we have formed a friendship overtime since our initial meeting. I find him to be a wonderful colleague who understands the breadth of the field, both in a performance and academic setting.

AM: You were teaching at Dance New Amsterdam and now Gibney Dance in New York City, how do you like teaching in an academic setting?

ER: I enjoy being able to work with people consistently and focus on teaching a technique class for seven weeks.  Teaching in the city, I focused more on the promotion of my class and business side of things, with classes usually meeting once a week or once a week for a month. Here, I can concentrate on the students and use my skills to share ideas. For example, in Intermediate Dance Composition the students are investigating site-work and adaptivity- how space informs history.  Since so much of the work I’m performing now utilizes concepts of space, I am able to provide the students with a different perspective on the subject matter.

AM: Do you have any advice to graduating seniors and grad students here at Brockport?

ER: Undergraduates: Remain curious. Try to find a community to support your interests whether it is performing, teaching, choreographing or taking classes.  NYC is not the only place to be. Some great dance communities are Chicago, Minneapolis, Austin, Seattle, and San Francisco, although NYC is great too!

Graduate Students: Try and balance tenacity and allowance.  Whether your interests are performing, choreography or teaching, continue to seek something.  Keep on doing that thing and try not to get too bogged down because eventually things will shift!

For more information check out Ed Rice’s website: http://edwarderice.com/

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

From China To New York: The Journeys of A Brockport Graduate Student

By Allison Bohman

Siwen Jiang, a second year MFA candidate at the The College at Brockport: The State University of New York has not only contributed a great deal to the Brockport community, but she has also shared her artistry among international dancers and choreographers during visits to New York City.  Originally from Hefei, China (near Shanghai), Siwen came to Brockport to deepen her studies in contemporary dance and learn about the American education model in the hopes up developing relations in dance between China and America.

During several visits to New York City within the last year, Siwen has studied dance extensively at Peridance on full scholarship. She was highly involved in organizing Chinese student study at this eminent NYC school.  Furthermore, Siwen has had the outstanding opportunity to dance professionally and choreograph in several performances.  From these experiences, Siwen shared that she “realized the importance of a positive and supportive rehearsal environment and how to contribute to it.”

The first performance opportunity Siwen had was at The New York Chinese Cultural Center, where she danced with Daijian, an artist originally from China with roots in contemporary dance, classical dance, and Martial Arts.  He joined New York-based Shen Wei Dance Arts in 2005 and Trisha Brown Dance Company in 2008, and he was Shen Wei’s assistant for the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.  Siwen was thrilled to participate in this show featuring contemporary art from three different choreographers.  To view some experts of this show, you can visit:

http://en.sinovision.net/shows/sinovision-journal/item/335-sinovision-journal-9-27.html

Next, Siwen collaborated her choreography with a technology exploration at The Pratt Institute in the DDA Gallery.  This piece, titled “Shall We Talk” featured Siwen Jiang and Conrad Andrew Taylor as dancers with interaction artist Jing Bao.  It was an interactive dance experience because audience members were given ipads and could text message the words they wanted to see layered on the media screen where the dancers were moving.  The installation was intended to reveal that people are separated by an invisible barrier.  The things we see are actually imposed by our own desire.  In reflecting on the process, Siwen explained that her “experience as the director in the dance allowed [her] to explore how to initiate and maintain a welcoming, inclusive and creative setting.”  To check out Siwen’s performance, you can visit http://vimeo.com/81170404.

Most recently, Siwen has organized and participated in a flash mob video initiative through The Future Student Club (FSC) “to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Sino-US diplomatic relationship.” The FSC is committed to helping international students integrate into American society by offering students career guidance, networking platforms, and opportunities to be involved in community volunteering activities.   She was responsible for organizing this event and was a director of the flash mob video that will be shown on major video and social platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Youku and Renren in both the United States and China. The flash mob video will additionally be sent to the Chinese Consulate in New York and the government of New York City as a gift for the 35th anniversary of Sino-US diplomatic relationship.   The video will be released to the public sometime in the next two weeks.

This summer, Siwen will have the honor of working with Houying Dance Company, who has been granted the right to develop a Chinese American Dance Festival, going into its third year.  She will participate in the American Dance Festival in New York City and then will return to China to run the Chinese American Dance Festival program, sharing her talents as a translator, teacher assistant, and program organizer.

From China to Brockport to New York City, Siwen Jiang is certainly leaving her artistic imprint on each community she comes into contact with.  Not only is she a beautiful dancer and person on the inside and out, but she is also determined to fulfill her dreams, which is an inspiration to us all.  She explained that these activities “broaden her knowledge in the dance field and also improve her abilities in organization, cooperation, and communication.”  Siwen has been able to meet a lot of people who have the same passion and pursuit for dance as she does. These experiences will not only play a crucial role in her life, but also make vital connections for future artists of both China and America.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Professor Karl Rogers Heads on International Tour

By Julia Zdrojewski

Assistant Professor of Dance, Karl Rogers has a particularly unique schedule this semester. Just a few short weeks after successfully coordinator the 2014 Northeast Region American College Dance Festival at The College at Brockport, he is flying off to Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to tour with David Dorfman Dance this spring and summer.

David Dorfman Dance was selected by DanceMotion USA for this specific tour, taking place in April and May of this year. DanceMotion USA is a program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the US Department of State, and produced by BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) that serves as a cross-cultural exchange program that works to connect America’s finest dance companies with international artists and communities.

“A main mission of DanceUSA is to bridge cultural distance through dance. I will be working in predominantly Islamic areas- collaborating with a tango company in a Kurdish area of Turkey, learning folk dances from a national company in Turkmenistan, and sharing with special needs communities in Uzbekistan,” Rogers said.

Throughout the extent of the tour, Rogers, who has performed with David Dorfman dance for the past eight years, will be kept busy with these workshops and outreach events, as well as teaching master classes for local dancers and participating in public performances. All of these events are done with the idea of cultural communication and understanding in mind.

DanceMotion USA makes a great effort to showcase contemporary American dance abroad as a tool to facilitate global exchange. One way the program works to achieve this goal is through social media. With a presence on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, we can all follow DanceMotion USA to not only appropriately-stalk Rogers and David Dorfman Dance, but companies such as CONTRA-TIEMPO who will be visiting Bolivia, Chile and Ecuador, and The Mark Morris Dance Group in Cambodia, China, Taiwan and Timor Leste.

After the tour has ended, Rogers will be returning to Brockport for the fall semester, while continuing to perform with David Dorfman Dance. Kevin Warner, the chair of the Dance Department, was delighted for Rogers while sharing the news with our students, saying, “This is a unique and special opportunity for Karl, and also for us as we learn from/about the experiences that Karl will bring back to all of us here at Brockport.”

Rogers himself echoed the excitement stating, “I have no doubt these experiences will broaden my physical palette, push me to employ different rhythmic structures and allow me to reconsider my own understanding of American modern dance. Honestly, I’m excited to shake things up and bring it back to Brockport. I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity.”

We are all thrilled for Rogers and the exciting experiences he has ahead of him this spring, and definitely look forward to his stories and return in the fall… until then, Instagram will have to do.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Students Reflect on ACDFA at Brockport

Just recently the Department of Dance at The College at Brockport hosted the 2014 Northeast Region American College Dance Festival. Our own students proved to be incredible hosts as they volunteered all over campus to help the conference successfully. Below undergraduate students, Cameron McCarthy, Jordan Lloyd and Chloe Leibrick, wrote about their perspectives of the conference from various vantage points and discussed how a community of dancers from all over the northeast was formed in just a few days.

________________________________________________________________

Written by Cameron McCarthy

This year Brockport’s Dance Department hosted ACDFA. Each student in the department was assigned certain tasks and jobs in order to make sure all the scheduled events ran smoothly. As a member of this department, my job fell under the category of production, more specifically an ASM, or assistant stage manager. While I also worked some of the Informal Concerts in Hartwell Theater, I also worked several of the Adjudicated Performances in the Black Box Theater in Tower. The experience I gained working behind the scenes was a similar but different energy as opposed to actually performing in such a concert. From the wings, one could hear the sounds of gels being quickly changed, dancers whispering “merde” to each other as nervous energy was calmed by the fast-paced movements of warming up, and the stage manager speaking through the headsets regarding what needed to happen next. As the house lights dimmed, the audience grew quiet, all that could be heard back stage was the faint whisper “dancers go;” the show has just begun.

However, there is a whole other world that exists before and after each piece performs that the audience doesn’t get to experience. Dancers swarmed backstage with nervousness, stretching and warming up a couple more seconds before it was their turn to perform. Collectively, each cast seemed to have their own way of connecting with one another. From high fives to back rubs, connectivity was made. My favorite part of witnessing this connectivity was when they came together in a circle, embraced arms, and simply breathed together. It was at this moment when all of their nervous energy, mine included, seemed to dissipate with each collective breath. Just as soon as they were preparing backstage, it seemed like in the blink of an eye, all of their hard work that had brought them to this very moment hung in the air then faded with the dimming of the lights. Each show, whether performing on stage or helping out backstage, has a different fleeting energy that is difficult to fully explain. For me, it was such a wonderful experience to witness and feel this energy during ACDFA because it brought a whole new perspective to how other schools and various different casts prepare for that “once in a lifetime” moment.
________________________________________________________________

Written by Jordan Lloyd

Brockport’s Department of Dance had the pleasure of hosting the 2014 Northeast Region American College Dance Festival, informally known as ACDFA. Basically, the collegiate dance world invaded Brockport for about five days. The jam-packed festival occupied about three buildings across campus, one of them being Hartwell Hall, home of the Department of Dance. Throughout the week Hartwell saw some extremely talented dance scholars, musicians from across the coast, and more than enough combat boots and scarves to clothe the participants.

Kicking off on Thursday, classes were being taught in almost every room from 8am to about 5pm each day. Members of the Brockport Dance family worked as hall monitors, door monitors and hospitality members. Spaces such as the Rose L. Strasser Studio and Studio 64 saw some class sizes nearing maximum capacity with classes like Hip-Hop Fusion being offered by our own adjunct faculty member, Nicole Kaplan. Some classes would be packed, but it was great to see a community of dancers forming as the week progressed.

Walking around Hartwell there was no escaping the praise the department was receiving for its highly equipped and spacious facilities. One of the biggest hits was our Conditioning Lab and Injury Prevention Room. Visiting students told us that Brockport is one of the few programs to offer amenities such as this.

Though the majority of the dancers stayed busy between classes, running to Tower Fine Arts to tech shows, and running to the Union to grab a catered lunch, the teachers and faculty were treated to a relaxing lounge, which was transformed from one of our more spacious conference rooms. The lounge was filled with snacks, coffee, tea, and lots of chatter. What was a reunion to some was an introduction to others, but by day five it was clear that ACDFA brings dancers together. I think that more important than the dancing, the classes, or even the Gala was the reminder that ACDFA is a place for dancers to communicate. The halls were filled with laughter, the nights were filled with socials and dinners, the days were filled with networking and classes, and most of all Brockport was filled with dancers.

______________________________________________________________

Written by Chloe Leibrick

My name is Chloe and I recently had the privilege of co-coordinating the ACDFA Hospitality Committee with graduate student, Allison Bohman. I had the opportunity to greet all of our dancing guests as they sleepily arrived in Hartwell on our first day of classes, and was also given the responsibility of organizing and distributing boxed lunches for everyone in attendance of the Festival.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much fun I had while serving boxed lunches to the droves of hungry dancers that shuffled through our Union Square. I feel so fortunate to have been able to work with some truly wonderful people, who in spite of stress and a few spills, never failed to make me laugh and remind me of the wonderful family that is the Brockport Dance Department.

I was also so pleased to see that, despite travel difficulties set in motion by the infamous “Vulcan,” 7:30 am registrations/warmups, and nightly performances, each dancer who came through our sandwich line was warm, polite, and always up for socialization! One of my favorite parts of each day occurred when the lunch rush would die down and we could have a little bit of time to just get to know everyone. The best part was that everyone sat together, at tables, on the floor, on couches, etc, so everyone could get to know everyone else. It was a real treat to be able to just have a pause and relax a bit with some new friends who all share the same true love for dance.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Student Dance Organization hosts annual Dance Awareness Days

By Lauren Saint-Louis

Every spring semester the Student Dance Organization under Brockport Student Government hosts a two-day event known as Dance Awareness Days. Current SDO Event Coordinator, Lauren Saint-Louis and Vice President, Erin Lowden organized and curated all aspects of this year’s successful occasion. Most recently held on Thursday, February 20th and Friday, February 21st, students, dancers and members of the Brockport and Rochester community participated in a variety of free dance classes in multiple and unique genres. SDO’s main objective as a Brockport organization is to reach out to those who may not be as familiar with the art form and provide accessible ways for those to learn and explore dance, ultimately raising interest and awareness.

What makes Dance Awareness Days unique is that it gives the community a chance to expand and create their own experience of dance, while also reconnecting Brockport alumni with current students. Many alumni return to participate each year along with current faculty, graduate students and a handful of guest artists from within New York State. Highlights from this year included classes in “Broadway Repertoire”, “House Dance”, “Ballet Stretch & Strength”, “Argentine Tango” and “New Jazz” to name a few. This year’s event was fortunate to have a well represented group of guest artists from Brooklyn, to Detroit and Buffalo. Summer Torrance, owner of “Body by Summer” in Brockport, taught her famous “Zumba” and “Turbo Kick” classes, while alumni Kristi Faulkner and Mark Schmidt taught “House Dance” and “Composition”. The artistic directors of Classical Ballet of Western New York, William Gentes and Susannah Dwyer also provided a men’s and women’s ballet technique class followed by a classical partnering experience. Collaborating BSG clubs were The Hip Hop Dance Club and the Swing Dance Society, who also taught classes in their expertise.

A new addition this year to D.A.D was a “Careers in Dance” panel discussion comprised of a group of seven alumni and moderated by current MFA candidate Julia Zdrojewski. In collaboration with the Living Learning Communities, the Office of Alumni Relations and the Department of Dance Chair, Kevin Warner, the evening consisted of an hour discussion and reception. Panelists included Mark Schmidt (MFA 2008), Kristi Faulkner (MFA 2010), Deb Lipa-Ciotta (MA 1989), Lindsey Rozzi (MFA 2002), Kelly Johnson (MFA 2011), Nicolette DePass (BS 1994) and Eddie Murphy (BS 1983, current Brockport faculty). They all spoke on behalf of their experience in respective facets of the dance field. Careers included artistic company director, public school dance education, higher education in dance, studio owner, strength and conditioning trainer, and professional performer. Valuable insight was given to aspiring students on how they could also achieve success in the dance field. Upon being asked “What is the one piece of advice you have for dancers about to graduate from Brockport?” or “What experiences or skills did you acquire at Brockport that you feel best prepared you for a career in dance?” each of them had extremely positive and unique responses that inspired many dancers and students in the audience.

Overall this year yielded over 300 participants, 30 classes and approximately 50 guests from surrounding areas. Dance Awareness Days is one of the main events that Student Dance Organization is honored to host every year and continues to receive growing support. Extending the experience of dance to the college and greater Brockport community has its own reward, and this year was no exception.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment