posted 2012-04-25 23:17:29

Hunter Dance Program’s Spring Concert

Dance department showcases at the Kaye Playhouse

Melissa Julien

Contributing Writer

On March 29, the Hunter College Dance Program showcased a series of innovative student choreography work from the first half of this semester’s Spring Concert. The Spring Concert, which took place at the Kaye Playhouse, featured three days

of new student work and repertory pieces. For the Hunter College Dance Program, a small but close-knit community based on the sixth floor of Thomas Hunter Hall, it was a very special event for students to gain essential experience in choreography, performance and stage production.

Jasmine Yohai, a Dance major and a part of the program’s PR team said, “the faculty served as guides, but the students were very involved in the planning process.”

Preparations for the Spring Concert began as early as December for some pieces, and practice sessions ranged from two to four hours a week. Yohai commented that her practice sessions were “intense, but the constant practice was necessary.”After months of investing time and hard work to prepare a show, the successful concert came as a just reward.

For the Spring Concert’s finale on Saturday, March 31, Hunter dance students graced the Kaye Playhouse with their talents. Performers pliéd and sautéd across the stage with movements both lithe and effortless. Featuring contemporary dance choreography, the performance ranged from strongly upbeat to deeply moving, leaving the audience in an understandable awe. The show opened with a lovely piece by student choreographer Gabriella Umanzor titled “03: Crepusculo.” Melissa Lavoie, Inil Hong and Abena Flyod’s choreography work appeared as well.

For the next performance, Hunter senior Jaclyn Gatto presented the audience with her piece, “Well—That Was a Fun Ride.” The piece came as a surprising twist, shifting the show’s rhythm from the fluid pieces that preceded it. Donning loud neon colors, a trio of girls gleefully skipped and hopped to the beat of the music. The performance put smiles on many faces in the audience.

After Gatto’s upbeat piece, the show’s tempo again changed drastically. “Shiv’ah,” a piece named for the Judaic tradition of mourning the passings of loved ones, brought the mood to a much more somber place. Written by Alexandra Amirov, a third year student at Hunter, the piece approaches the cycle of life and death with tender symbolism.

Amirov said, “The piece shows a cycle of life: from birth to love and comfort of relationships and the community to death and what the emotional process that the people ‘left behind’ deal with.”

“Shiv’ah” began with the performers, dressed fully in white clothing, sorrowfully pacing the stage as they dropped pictures of loved ones onto the floor. The somber expressions on the performer’s faces were illuminated by a dim light shining down onto the stage. Suddenly the lights were brightened, and the piece took an unexpected turn as the performers cheerfully broke out into song and dance. The performers held hands and danced around in a circular formation as they chanted praises.

Amirov’s intention of the piece being a portrayal of the cycle of life was clearly shown in the transition from a dark beginning to a merry scene. Just as quickly as the piece morphed into a happy gathering of the community, it ended on a dark note. “Shiv’ah” was a beautifully complex and groundbreaking brainchild of this innovative choreographer.

The second half of the concert began just as strongly. Pieces from choreographers Kirsten Davis and C. Bailey left strong impressions. Hunter Senior, Angela Lianzo choreographed a piece titled “The Unnecessary I.” This piece featured performers moving swiftly across the stage as they removed various articles of their costumes. Far from controversial though, Lianzo crafted it into piece in which each performer overcame a struggle.

“The dance represented an inner battle with myself,” Lianzo said. Lianzo stated that each layer of clothing worn by the performers meant something different. At the end of the performance, the dancers remain left with nothing on but their undergarments, which, “is symbolic of their bare selves,” Lianzo said. They become free of their inhibitions. After Lianzo’s piece, choreographer Anyeli Arias presented her work titled “House of Havoc,” and the Concert ended with “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Interlude” by Jacqueline Molinari.

After viewing all the hard work done by the Hunter College Dance Program, it is very clear that this is a group of young men and young women that are passionate about the art of dance. The second half of the Spring Concert takes place from May 3 to May 5 in the South Studio, on the sixth floor of Thomas Hunter Hall.