Exploring modern dance through student choreography

Nick Bonadies

Spectrum editor

The VCU Department of Dance and Choreography this weekend rolls out VERVE, their latest showcase of student-choreographed, student-curated and student-performed works, this Friday and Saturday, Jan. 28-29 at 8:00 p.m. at the Grace Street Theater.

VERVE, the fifth program in the VCU Dance 2010-2011 season, has been a student-driven show even from its inception: In addition to choreographing and rehearsing the works, dance students from across the department were also responsible for adjudicating and selecting the pieces to be performed, as well as keeping rehearsals at Grace Street Theater running smoothly.

The 10 pieces ultimately chosen for performance this weekend promise to showcase a fascinating “range of choreographic voices,” according to VERVE producer and assistant professor Lea Marshall.

“We’ll see a great range of different kinds of approaches to modern dance,” Marshall said.  “It’s a good diverse picture of the kind of work that our dance majors are making right now.”

Among many artistic approaches, some works in VERVE will take a narrative bent. For example, Julius Elegido’s “Death By Dwelling” tells the story of a man who has woken from the dead and revisits his still-alive lover. Alyssa Gregory’s “SugaHoneyIcedTea” explores the temperament of a Southern housewife and the sudden realization of being trapped in a life that is less than she expected.

“This Resonance,” by Courtney Cook, explores the deeper psychology of addiction: Regarding the piece, a press release asks, “What happens when being trapped in an addiction begins to feel like being stuck in a parallel world where there is no up, there is no down, no way out?”

Other pieces will bypass narrative for a more experimental approach, such as “Kali,” a compact, fast-paced solo in which Kim Palmer explores how much movement can be executed in a small box of light. An “Untitled” work by Chloe Bowman and Bryanna Brown also works with a confined space, this time between two dancers, and utilizes live musical accompaniment as an additional form of tension.

Other works will include “Affinity,” Margaret Allen and Andrew de Fiesta’s portrayal of initial attraction; Katherine Ellis’s “Cathartic Release,” three people’s struggle to understand an emotional conflict; “It’s Been a Long Time” by Courtney Cook and Jasmine Domfort, a comical exploration of isolation and forced company; Jaime Dzandu’s “Fizzle,” about letting memories fade in favor of living in the present; and “One Day in October,” a video dance work by Beau Dobson. CT

VCU Department of Dance and Choreography will present VERVE, the 2011 Student Concert on Friday and Saturday, January 28–29, 2011 at 8:00 p.m. at the Grace Street Theater, 934 West Grace Street. Tickets are $15 for the general public, $10 for students with a valid VCU I.D. and can be reserved by calling 804-828-2020 or visiting www.showclix.com/search/vcu dance.

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