Dance and Movement Studies showcases performers’ progress


Aleäa Reyes

The Dance and Movement Studies department students’ rehearse for their spring concert on Wednesday, April 13, 2016, where students will perform moves they have learned in their classes over the past semester. The concert opened on Thursday, April 14 and will run until Friday, April 15.

Allegheny College students who are involved in several styles of dance, including ballet, ballroom, jazz and modern, will be performing in this year’s annual Spring Dance Concert.

The concert opened on Thursday, April 14 and will run through  Friday, April 15. All shows will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Montgomery Gymnasium.

The concert will be split up into two acts with the first paying tribute to the local area with live music directed by John Hyatt, dance and movement studies music coordinator. The second portion will feature a reconstruction of a popular piece choreographed by assistant professor of dance and movement studies, Betsy Sumerfield, entitled “Between Here and There.” The show is presented by the dance and movement studies program and is free and open to the public.

This year the concert is titled “You Are Here, Now” as a part of the college’s theme of 2016, The Year of Meadville.

Eleanor Weisman, assistant professor of dance and movement studies, said they chose the title for a few reasons.

“First we wanted to connect to the Year of Meadville theme, and certainly we are all here in Meadville now,” said Weisman.  “The title also emphasizes a recurring emphasis in dance and movement studies courses which is the sense of presence one feels as a performer on stage or as a movement practitioner.”

Weisman said this particular event is one she looks forward to because she gets to see her student dancers perform.  She said that it is rewarding to see the progress they have made and show off their talents.

“The dancers may have specific intentions in mind for their performance, but each witness may receive something different from the dance,” said Weisman.  “When we explore themes of human experience together from the images on stage and the responses they evoke, something special happens. That is the magic of performance art.  I also thoroughly enjoy witnessing the students when they perform. I recognize the hours of hard work and rehearsal that they have committed to in order to be able to make the performance work.  The ensemble work as well as the individual prowess and presence is a joy to watch.”

Molly Shelton, ’16, will be performing in two pieces for the spring concert but there is one in particular that she is excited about.

“I have never been in a ballroom piece in the spring concert before, but I’ve always loved watching them,” Shelton said. “I am so excited to work with such an amazing group of dancers to tell a story about finding the right person.”

A few other students who are performing in this spring’s concert are Casey Freed, ’16, and Rayna Pelisari, ’17, who are performing in four pieces along with Julia Bartlett, ’16, who is performing in three.

Freed said she is excited to be performing one last time at Allegheny College and that it will be a difficult goodbye for her.

“I have always just enjoyed the aspect of performing, so I’m looking forward to being able to perform my last show at Allegheny College with the family that I have created within the dance department over the past four years,” Freed said.

Bartlett and Pelisari both recognize the amount of hard work and effort that goes into putting a concert like this together in order to be as successful as possible.

“We have been practicing for the last couple of months to learn and clean up the dances to make sure that our movements are on time and that we portray a story,” said Bartlett. “We also have stage managers working to make sure that the dancers get onstage on time and handling any difficulties that come up during the show.”

Pelisari said that there’s a large group of people that devote a large amount of time to make sure the dances and the concert run smoothly.  She said stage managers, choreographers and a stage crew all help the performers out.

“Many of the classes that have pieces in the shows have devoted multiple days of class time to prepare for the show,” Pelisari said. “Choreographers have also devoted a lot of time to choreographing the pieces and lighting and sound crew work hard in order to give the choreographer what they had envisioned.”

Weisman said there are more than 60 performers who will be performing and she encourages people to attend the concert to support them.

“I think whoever attends will first be entertained and enjoy the show,” Weisman said.  “Most importantly, they may go away with images of the human body in motion and interaction that evoke thoughtful reflection on what it means to be alive now, in the 21st century at Allegheny College and in Meadville. My hope is that audience members will leave Montgomery with much to converse about because dance both reflects culture and helps to shape it. Our concert is part of that process.”

Freed encourages people to come watch the performance and support their fellow classmates.  She said that the student body would enjoy the concert while also learning more about different styles of dance.

“This show has a lot of amazing pieces, which are performed by some of the most amazing dancers on this campus,” Freed said. “Everyone has worked so hard to make this show great and it is going to be an incredible. All of the pieces have something absolutely amazing to give the audience,”

For more information or to make a reservation call the Dance and Movement Studies office at 814-332-2813.