In “Then to Now,” the 10th anniversary performance of UDC’s Fall Dance Concert series, four student choreographers will be given the chance to present their original works in this milestone concert. Selected from a very competitive audition process, these choreographers will present works that examine a wide range of topics, very different from one another, nonetheless similar in that their importance will be expressed through dance.Ashley N. Corrado, a senior majoring in nursing, who has choreographed for UDC four times previously and Peter Pan the Ballet at the Fulton Opera House in Lancaster, will present a piece entitled, “White Coat Syndrome.”
When asked how she came up with this idea, Corrado stated, “Doing clinical rotations as a WCU student nurse has really exposed me to patients of all types and mindsets, with all types of philosophies and views. While one person may feel that a regularly scheduled checkup is nothing, another person dreads it for the whole week prior.”
This piece will take place in a hospital, with a total of nine dancers portraying six hospital staff and three patients and will explore ‘white coat syndrome’ which causes some patients to become anxious or fearful when in a medical setting.
“I want this piece to convey a hospital in which the patients are frightened and the doctors/nurses are intimidating. If you choose to watch this piece, make the decision for yourself: Is this a frightful vision through the eyes of a terrified patient, or is this a non-therapeutic hospital gone terribly wrong,” said Corrado.
Anna Karas, an elementary education major and dance minor, who also has experience choreographing for UDC and at the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts, will present a piece entitled, “quagmire,” with music by George Winston. Karas’ piece has three dancers, and will use dance, music, and video projection to create an atmosphere of exploration outside of one’s comfort zone.
“I wanted to add a new challenge to my choreography this semester, and I thought adding media projection would be a great way to do that,” Karas said.
“It forces me as a choreographer to not only work with music and dancers, but also video,” Karas said while discussing her inspiration for the piece.
Karas hopes that her piece will allow, “the audience to see dance in an arena other than a stage.”
“The video projections are all of dance and movement outside among nature. I find nature beautiful and dance beautiful, so why not combine the two,” said Karas.
Currently, in addition to her UDC piece, Karas is creating a dance/multimedia piece through collaboration with a composer.
Malia Piazza, a biology education major and dance minor, who has also choreographed previously with UDC, at a summer camp called the Performing Arts Institute, and will be choreographing the Department of Theatre and Dance’s spring musical production of tick…tick…BOOM!, will present a piece entitled, “Happening By Chance.”
This piece has eight dancers and will examine coincidences that occur in life.
Although she had another piece in mind initially, Piazza “became inspired to do a piece about coincidence based on the realization that even during the hardest times or worst situations in my life, an interesting coincidence will always make me smile.”
“I hope to convey simply that strange chance happenings will always exist throughout our lives and they should be acknowledged and appreciated for what they are,” said Piazza when asked what she hoped to convey.
Samantha Shepherd, a liberal studies major and dance minor, will present her very first choreographed piece this fall. Shepherd’s piece will deal with the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance with some influence from addiction.
Like other choreographers, this was not her original idea and she felt the need to change her direction.
“So last year I did an assignment to Miles Davis’ “Bitches Brew” [and] I felt very comfortable with the music and felt that it fit my mood very well. I had attended a funeral earlier that day…so loss and grief…were heavy on my mind. The thought of “Bitches Brew” and these ideas put together just seemed right to me.”
Additionally, Shepherd hopes to convey with her piece, “It’s kind of an observation of someone going through these five stages, so I guess emotion. The dance ends with acceptance, so of course I hope those viewing can see that even though those phases that come before are rough, acceptance is part of the plan.”
She went on to say that: “Ultimately though, I hope the movement really shines through and shows the stages and emotions in a way that will reach the audience.”
Although all four students approach the choreography challenge from very different angles and chose to explore very different issues, one thing is for certain – all the pieces are very imaginative and very-well planned and constructed. These four pieces, combined with works from guest artists, Gretchen Studlien-Webb, and Liz Staruch, promise to make “Then to Now” one of the best Fall Dance Concerts yet.
Ticket information: Performances are on November 21 and 22 at 8 p.m. and November 22 at 2 p.m.
Tickets may be purchased by calling the Department of Theatre and Dance box office at 610-436-2533 or at the SSI box office at 610-436-2266. Tickets may also be purchased in person at the Department of Theatre and Dance box office. Student, faculty, and senior tickets are $12 and reserved adult admission is $15.
Kirsten Smith is majoring in theatre arts with a minor in dance. She can be reached at KS592099@wcupa.edu.