VCU Dance brings Friction to the stage

Maya Earls
Spectrum Editor

Six VCU Dance seniors will present their self-choreographed pieces Nov. 20-22 in a performance titled “Friction,” highlighting the tension of building and breaking relationships.

The fall senior dance project began when the dancers were in their junior year, when they presented their thesis statement for a pass-or-fail stage. After the topic was approved, the students continued to expand on the idea to present their piece in front of a panel for final approval. The students then created the actual movement, found music and selected their cast. Senior dance student Dillon Spicer said the process puts a lot of work on one student.

“Friction” will discuss, in the form of dance, the tension of building and breaking relationships. Photo by Julie Tripp

“You have to do it all,” Spicer said. “It’s a little crazy.”

All the students who made it to the final stage met and decided on the theme for the show. Spicer said most of the pieces dealt with human relationships and how they affected human evolution.

“With relationships there’s always friction, whether it’s a positive or good friction,” Spicer said.

Spicer said her piece was inspired by turmoil in her junior year. During that time, she said she was discovering who she was as an individual. Spicer was also inspired by her experience in an old relationship and the law of attraction.

“An old relationship of mine kind of got me hooked on the law of attraction and how the energy you put out is the energy you receive back in,” Spicer said. “I was like, how can I tell my story or tell other stories through that piece of movement.”

Dance senior Gabrielle Johnson said she was inspired by a series of underwater sculptures by Jason deCaires Taylor. She used images of the sculptures standing together to form a new idea of breaking from the crowd.

“I have sort of a soloist who early on shows signs of her breaking away and going against the ebb and flow of the group,” Johnson said.

Johnson said one person attempting to go on their own path creates tension within a group. Some of her choreography is taken from the photographs of Taylor’s sculptures, and Johnson said she had a clear vision of her choreography since her junior year.

“The hardest thing for me has been letting go a little bit and messing it up some, letting it have more of an organic feel,” Johnson said. “That’s how underwater is, nothing’s perfect, the current isn’t always flowing and steady.”

The seniors were responsible for finding costumes for their cast, which involved either buying a costume or creating an outfit by hand. Spicer and Johnson both scoured the store H&M for their costume needs. Spicer found business-casual attire to represent the humanity of her cast. Johnson said she deconstructed tunic dresses to create a new look for her dancers.

“I’m basically hand-sewing all of my costumes,” Johnson said. “That takes a lot of time and concentration.”

The seniors have a lighting designer at their disposal, making one visual aspect of their works less complicated. Both Spicer and Johnson said the cast and the rehearsal process has been their favorite aspect of the project.

“I really feed off of my dancers,” Spicer said. “To be able to sculpt the way they naturally move has made me so happy. They put their own movement, their own style into their piece to kind of make this piece become one.”

The fall senior dance project will take place Nov. 20-22 at 8 p.m. at the Grace St. Theater at 934 W. Grace St. Tickets are available at showclix.com at $15 for the general public and $10 for students with a valid ID.

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