Dance department brings social change to stage

The Department of Dance and Movement Studies will be performing its spring concert March 11, 12 and 13 at 8 p.m. in the Montgomery Performance Space, where dancers will stage a fusion of contemporary, modern, interpretive, ballet and even some yoga and jazz style dances.

The theme of the concert, the Year of Social Change, influenced the dancers in everything from the way they prepared their pieces to the way the show will be performed.

“It’s definitely always there, it’s in the back of our heads,” said dancer Daniel Winston, ’10.

Fellow dancer Jessie Coven, ’10, maintained that change is a concept that is constantly present in the world of dance.

“It’s an interesting topic to be explored in dance simply because we in dance understand change as occurring all the time, whether we’re inhaling or exhaling, that’s a matter of change,” she said. “We aren’t the same person we were a second ago.”

Assistant Professor of Dance and Movement Studies Eleanor Weisman explained the correlation between dance and changing culture.

“Dance throughout history has always done two things,” Weisman said. “One is to reflect the society it comes from — so people express where they are, so to speak, through how they dance — and then it’s also to change society.”

The students and teachers involved in the performance have been working hard not only to capture the values of modern society, but to push the boundaries of how dance is usually conceived.

During the choreography process, for instance, teachers who would traditionally give students strict choreography to follow focused more on collaborating with the students, letting them interpret the movement and relying more on improvisation.

“The process of how some of these pieces were made is part of a social statement,” Weisman said.

Barriers will also be broken during the performance itself, when the audience will be asked to participate in a suite of Bob Dylan songs by singing along to the last verse. In a solo piece titled “Myself Now,” Coven will talk to the audience, thereby dissolving the wall that usually separates the dancers from their spectators.

“We’re trying to break some of those rules,” Weisman said.

The participating dancers have all taken time out of their busy schedules to prepare for the concert. They have spent their free time learning the choreography and rehearsing with the band that will be providing live music.

“They’re not getting credit for any classes, it’s all outside time that they commit to it,” Weisman said.

Yet the dancers wouldn’t have spent their time any other way and are very excited about the performance.

“Everybody loves dancing, we wouldn’t do it otherwise,” Coven said. “So getting the opportunity to do what we love is really what’s important.”

“I just hope everybody comes and I hope they have as much fun watching it as we’ve had putting it together,” Winston said.

The performance is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Reservations may be made by calling (814) 332–2813. Those with reserved seats will be admitted into the performance space first.

Donations to the Dance and Movement Studies department will also be accepted at the shows.