Spring Dance Concert makes social statements with movement

Nicole Towne

Over 20 dancers took the stage at the University Center for the Arts Dance Theater this weekend for Colorado State University’s Spring Dance Concert.

The concert featured 10 separate pieces choreographed by CSU students, faculty and special guests. There was a great variety in the music, costumes, subject matter present in the dances and the styles of dance.

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The show had a traditional ballet piece, performed by special guest Sharon Wehner from the Colorado Ballet. For her solo piece, “The Dying Swan,” she danced en pointe, dressed in a white, feathery classical ballet costume, featuring a pancake-shaped tutu.

The following piece, “Resurgence,” choreographed by CSU Instructor of Dance James Wallace, juxtaposed the ease and grace presented by Wehner. Shannon Gerney and Aminta Remisosky performed en pointe alongside Mohammed York in modern ballet performance featuring mechanical sounds, static and dramatic eye makeup. All members of the trio displayed extreme levels of flexibility. York lowered himself into the splits. The dancers did deep lunges and slid across the floor.

One of the larger group pieces was “Love Shouldn’t Hurt,” choreographed by junior dance major Danielle Cardon and performed by Katelyn Doyle, Hannah Finnegan, Avery Jones, Bailey McKenzie, Jessica Merritt, Aminta Remisosky, Isabella Rocha, Julia SanClemente and Mohammed York. The piece was a response to interpersonal violence.

Junior dance major Hannah Finnegan said it was difficult embodying the character.

‘“Love Shouldn’t Hurt’ was a really emotional experience,” Finnegan said.

The dance opened with audio from a 911 call. A small child was on the line, crying and saying “my mommy and daddy are having a fight.”

Finnegan and York were tied together with a red ribbon attached to both of their waists for the first part of the dance. York pretended to scream and yell at Finnegan as well as pull her hair and choke her.

For the second section of the piece, the dancers were accompanied by a live performance of Halsey’s “Trouble” by Shanelle Cardon.

The largest group number, “American Lullaby,” was choreographed by CSU faculty member Judy Bejarano and brought to life by 18 dancers. In total, the dance was around 14 minutes long. The piece was a collaborative effort between Bejarano and the students in her contemporary repertory class.

Senior dance major Devon DeSpain said being in the piece was a positive experience and allowed the dancers to explore and be expressive.

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“It was so fun being in that piece,” DeSpain said. “It was really great working with Judy.”

As listed in the program, “American Lullaby was born from the artist’s response to our current political climate and global refugee situation. The work also touches on other times in our history where we marginalized the ‘other.’”

The dance featured spoken word, digital projections and stage props. It combined American patriotism with projected images of Japanese-American Internment Camps, McCarthyism and I.C.E. raids. One dancer was dressed as Rosie the Riveter. Another dancer acted as a fierce and unwelcoming immigration officer. They danced to “This Land is Your land” until the song ending in static and glitch sounds similar to a scratched CD.

The end of the dance featured some of the dancers walking up over a wall and blindly falling backwards to the other side as “When You Wish Upon a Star” played.

DeSpain said that the dancers falling into the abyss at the end of the piece was not an act of suicide. It symbolized overcoming barriers.

“Even though there is a wall, they’re still getting over it,” DeSpain said.

Third year mechanical engineering student Quill Maurer said the show was an impressive display of human ability, and made making personal experiences as seen in “American Lullaby” and “Love Shouldn’t Hurt” more tangible.

“A story told through dance can have an impact that a lot of other medias can’t,” Maurer said.

Collegian reporter Nicole Towne can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @nicole_towne21.