Collaborative Dance Concert Brings Together Students and Faculty

November 15, 2007

Nov. 15, 2007 — Arts patrons are in for a special treat at the "Experimental Dance Concert: The Final Step," to be presented Nov. 16 and 17 in the Helms Theatre. Students and faculty have joined to create nine dances that highlight student class work.

The program will also feature a collaborative dance piece choreographed by University of Virginia dance program director Rose Pasquarello Beauchamp and music professor Judith Shatin, director of the Virginia Center for Computer Music. The composition, "Honey Sweet Pomegranate Seed," also includes video by videographer and photographer Richard Robinson.

Keira Hart, the program's new adjunct faculty member, also choreographed a piece for the event.

The fall dance video class collaborated on the images for "Honey Sweet Pomegranate Seed." They shot footage that Robinson used to create the full-length abstract video that accompanies the dance. "The video serves as another element of the dance, creating atmosphere and furthering the story," Beauchamp said.

Students also contributed recorded "found sounds" to Shatin's sound score for the dance. They range from laughter and whispers to a clanking sound Shatin incorporated to embody a descent into Hades. The rich layering of images in the video and sound components of the multimedia piece provide add elements of drama to the narrative thread.

"It's a wonderful example for the students of how the world can be directly drawn into the music in ways not possible before the technology," Shatin said.

She is enthusiastic about working with Beauchamp and the students. "This is a new kind of interdisciplinary collaboration possible now that we have a dance program," she said.

Although Beauchamp choreographed the dance, "the students were really involved in the designing of the piece, including the plot development and how that relates to the sound and video," Beauchamp said.

The students have been working on their own choreographed pieces since the start of the semester. After submitting proposals, the process included feedback and experimentation with different elements. Student choreographers include Rebecca Conners, Kasey Johnson, Tessa Nunn, Jake Pasko, Erin White and Brielle Dufon, all in the dance minor program.

The dancers in all the pieces include both those in the program and others who have a strong interest in dance.

The choreographers drew from multiple dance genres, including jazz, modern and contemporary. "It an eclectic show," said Hart, whose own piece, "Layered Systems," layers the dancers' movements to music by a post-rock minimalist composition of The Rachel's.

Students in the dance production class are responsible for all aspects of the show's production, including costume and lighting design and stage management. Other students in the dance program also lent a hand in these areas.

Although the program is only in its second year, it is leaping ahead quickly. Of the concert Beauchamp said, "It is a huge step in the dance program. The students have done a great job."

"The Final Step" will be presented in three performances, Nov. 16 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 17 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets are $7 for the general public and $3 for students and members of the U.Va. community. Tickets will be available one hour before each performance. Student Art$ Dollars cannot be used for this event.