The App State Theatre and Dance Department is putting on its annual Fall Appalachian Dance Ensemble in the Valborg Theatre Nov. 14-18. The show includes eight dances featuring the work of students, faculty and special guests, according to the department’s press release. Tickets are $10 for students, $15 for faculty and staff and $17 for adults and can be found online at theatreanddance.appstate.edu or by calling 800-841-2787. These are the stories behind some of the dances being performed.
By Mack Foley, A&E Reporter
In October, the Department of Theatre and Dance hosted guest artist Laura Pettibone Wright for a week. During her visit she taught classes, gave lectures and worked with 12 students to recreate Erick Hawkins’ “New Moon” dance. “New Moon” premiered in 1989 with Wright in the central role.
After Wright’s departure, adjunct professor Jessica Wood, a friend of Wright’s, took over in guiding the dance and working with students to ensure their readiness.
Hawkins was known for a style of dance uniquely his own, which is now known as the Erick Hawkins dance technique. Hawkins was also known for his unconventional aesthetics, wherein he combined visual influences from Native American and Japanese dances as well as elements from Zen Buddhist and classical Greek thinking. “New Moon” doesn’t stray from this style, as New York Times writer Anna Kisselgoff said parts of it were reminiscent of Japanese Kabuki theater in her review of the original show in 1990.
“New Moon” does not have a concrete plot, but Hawkins said it is “an exact embodiment of the human need to begin again.” The Fall Appalachian Dance Ensemble will mark the first time that “New Moon” will have been performed in the Appalachian region, according to the Department of Theatre and Dance.
By Savannah Nguyen, A&E Reporter
Hayley Beichert, a senior dance studies major, was chosen to choreograph “Detached Ubiety.” Beichert adds to the meaning of the word ubiety, characterized as simply being in a space with no feelings, by adding an element of detachment. She dares to encourage questions like, “Do we embrace a complete disregard for comfort, or avoid it?”
“The piece is about facing the uncomfortable and how the body reacts in a panic state of mind,” Bella Balatow, sophomore theatre arts major, said. “Not only is this true for the audience, it is the case for dancers of the piece as well.”
“The song itself is just noise,” Balatow said. “We literally have to listen for certain minute changes of sound within the music for our cues.”
Dancers fidget, contract, and rock back and forth throughout the choreography to emphasize discomfort.
Jessica Marano is a freshman exercise science major and dancer of 17 years, but took last year off. With “Detached Ubiety,” she has been “thrown back into it” with Beichert’s piece. Marano confessed that she was nervous about auditioning for the FADE piece after taking a year-long break from dance. However, like the nature of the choreography, Marano embraced her fear and took a chance.
Ultimately, for dancers like Marano and Balatow, the experience of embracing the uncomfortable has made them grow as artists.
Secretly We Are All Gone
By Nyctea Martell, A&E Reporter
“Secretly We Are All Gone” is choreographed by Emma Dubinski, senior dance studies major. She has been dancing since she was 4 years old and the inspiration for this dance was from her personal experiences.
The dance focuses on the stages of grief and how differently people can deal with it, Dubinski said in an email.
The stages of grief explored in “Secretly We Are All Gone” are shock/denial, pain, bargaining, the upward turn, reconstruction and acceptance.
Each of the five dancers has a solo in the piece. The dance is choreographed to show Dubinski’s own stages of grief through strong and powerful movements along with facial expressions. Costumes will be kept simple with darker colors.
Dubinski said she hopes the audience will relate to the experiences and she hopes they will leave with a sense of community that she has also built with her dancers.
“I have a fantastic group of dancers that really helped and supported me through the process,” Dubinski said in an email.
Sanctuary: Broken and Healing
By Tucker Wulff, A&E Reporter
Students across the U.S. cannot go to school prepared only to learn. Students must be ready to protect themselves throughout the day as they move from classroom to classroom, desk to desk. Fear and grief have spread through the educational system in the U.S. as school shootings plague the country.
“Sanctuary: Broken and Healing” looks to give a positive response to these tragedies while remaining respectful, Ray Miller, choreographer and professor in dance studies, said.
The piece follows events similar to what it may be like to be a student in a school where a shooting occurs.
“We start at the very beginning with them being at the school just on a regular day, and then the shooting occurs,” Miller said.
From this point the dance develops through the world of the students from different perspectives, Miller said.
The performance does not attempt to be sentimental or optimistic, Miller said.
“It’s more about being hopeful, I think, rather than being sentimental. It’s about being real,” Miller said.
After speaking with students who have experienced school shootings in their high schools and reading about others, Miller decided he needed to respond. More specifically, Miller drew inspiration from a recent publication titled, “Glimmer of Hope: How Tragedy Sparked a Movement,” written by students who experienced the shooting in Parkland, Florida.
“When you read their words, you really get that sense of them feeling as though it’s really important to use this tragedy as a way by which to work for real and positive change,” Miller said. “That’s hopefully what we’re going to try and do with this dance.”
Stuck in the Undertow
By Camryn Collier, A&E Reporter
Inspiring contemplation and the uncomfortable, senior psychology major Lyndsey Porter choreographed “Stuck in the Undertow” with darker themes in mind.
“My concept for the piece is manipulation between women in interpersonal relationships,” Porter said in an email. “I wanted to explore several manipulative tendencies such as the silent treatment, coercion, and debasement, as well as some concepts such as peer pressure and social acceptance between women.”
The piece features a mix of several dance techniques including jazz, modern, contemporary and hints of traditional ballet. Choreographing the dance was challenging, but proved gratifying, Porter said in an email.
“I was really worried going into this process that I would get stuck creatively and not be able to present a piece I was proud of,” Porter said in an email. “However, the process was actually really rewarding and were some of the only parts of my week that I looked forward to.”
Porter said she isn’t sure how she wants the audience to react to her piece.
“I keep reminding myself that art is subjective, and people may interpret my piece completely differently than I intend, but that is out of my hands,” Porter said in an email.
The song featured with her piece is “Massive Attack” by Atlas Air, which “really sets the mood for the piece,” Porter said in an email. “The title works with the movement I chose. Especially the beginning and ending.”
Rueda de Comunidad
By Laura Boaggio, A&E Reporter
“Rueda de Comunidad” was choreographed by Emily Daughtridge, associate professor of dance studies. Daughtridge choreographs for either the Spring or Fall Appalachian Dance Ensembles every year.
“In past years I have coordinated the concert as well as mentored student choreographers in the creation and production of their works on these concerts,” Daughtridge said in an email.
There are 10 dance studies students cast in “Rueda de Comunidad,” along with Daughtridge herself and a guest performer, Marco Meucci, professor of exercise science at App State.
“He and I have been collaborating as dance partners over the past year and half to learn and teach Latin dance in the community,” Daughtridge said in an email.
This dance was inspired by Daughtridge’s travels to Cuba, where she co-led a study abroad course. Daughtridge said she aimed to portray the style of salsa she saw in Cuba while learning more about the style through researching and choreographing the dance. The Cuban salsa tradition, known as Rueda de Casino, is represented in her choreography.
“‘Rueda de Casino’ translates to ‘wheel of salsa,’ implying that the social dance form is performed in a circle with partner exchanges in a manner not unlike contra dancing,” Daughtridge said.
This style of dancing is based on constant interaction with a partner. It’s necessary to have a group of people perform it to learn and practice it, Daughtridge said.
“I’ve learned so much in the making of this piece. I already have ideas for development and revision should I have the opportunity to re-stage it,” Daughtridge said.
Photo courtesy of the Department of Theatre and Dance
Featured Photo Caption: “UnderStory” is the title of an original work choreographed in spring 2018 by Regina Gulick, senior lecturer in dance studies at Appalachian State University. Her cast of student dancers included, from left to right, Ashley Holliday, Amanda Mason, Lexi Ovenden, Lyndsey Porter, Elise Staub, Bronwyn Weismiller, and Annie Young.