One may think that the typical dance setting should be complete with high-tech lighting, costumes and makeup. But for the introductory dance and choreography classes, taught by Melissa Randel, co-chair of the dance department, this was not the case.
Motivated by their surroundings, the dancers came up with the concept for environmental studies, where numbers are performed in surprising places like the squares of the giant chessboard in front of the cafeteria, or even on the stairs leading to the library.
Students Tianna Debell, Emily Germano, Roxanna Onofre, Aya Tasaka, Daimici Robert and Ricky Sun choose various sites on campus and choreograph routines to compliment the settings. The pieces are rehearsed and performed in the space.
“The dance is motivated by the surrounding,” said Onofre. “You have to have an intention.”
This also encourages the dancers to learn the concept of outdoor performance. The choreographers create the idea, while the dancers bring them to life through abstract movements and emotion.
“I usually look at the dancers and see what movement I’d like to see on them,” said Debell. “From there, I come up with a motivation and movement.”
Tasaka’s routine on Oct. 31 in the plaza was strongly influenced by a combination of earth, art and nature. The instruments used were an African drum and rain stick, giving an earthy tone to the piece.
“I wanted to use more of a [natural] rhythm,” said Tasaka. Among the many dancers, Ani Aghajanian, Raymond Abramian, Michael Samauk, Simahara Snoke, Hilda Tahmasian and Syuzanna Yegoryan blended in with their surroundings, mingling with the people around them. “It’s not like a regular dance,” said Yegoryan.
Onofre’s ideas emerged from her observations of the movements of children.
“I wanted to explore children playing on stairs and their lack of inhibitions,” said Onofre. The dancers ran up and down the library stairs, swinging under bars and interacting with students. Children will play anywhere, and it was that sense of free spirit and innocence that accented the piece.
Debell’s piece was performed Wednesday on the chessboard. The dancers, Wendy Bracamontes, Malin Eveman, Young Jin Lee and Sevak Sulahian played chess pieces, defending their side against two queens, Niailah Larkin and Noriko Watanuki. The chess war begins with the two queens in opposite corners shouting, “I’m gonna win!” “I’m gonna win!” and continues until one of the queens is thrown across the chessboard, leaving Larkin’s chess piece as the winning queen.
The students will continue to practice and perform around campus over the next few weeks.