Senior thesis dance concert
The Senior Thesis Dance Concert, which ran from March 31 to April 2, was a beautiful send off for graduating seniors majoring in dance. The works selected for the show were choreographed by Sarah Achartz, Ella Ansell, Jessica Beliles, Taina Bey, Charnice Charmant, Victoria Gonzalez and Ali Naranjo, and were all moving and expertly danced. The pieces, which were all contemporary, had their own individuality, perfectly demonstrated the different styles and approaches of the choreographers.
Some pieces were funny, some were emotional and some experimental. One of the stand out pieces of the night was Charnice O. Charmont ’16’s “Break It Down Now.” It started in silence with one of the dancers dribbling a basketball, creating a beat. Then seven other dancers came out, laughing, talking and playing basketball. The dance tells the story of friends having a dance-off, cheering each other on and having fun. It was clear that all of the dancers on stage loved every second of what they were doing.
Charmont, as part of her honors thesis, created an “Africanist dance course that emphasizes the genealogy of Africanist dance and its relationship to African American history and identity,” which she hopes Smith will use as a course one day. Charmont is interested in “the role of race in dance and how this history can shape the choreographic canon being studied … [Dance] can serve a healing influence in the work of coming to terms with the ongoing and often violent race issues in America,” she wrote in the introduction to her piece.
Another piece that stood out was “of light + depth,” which opened the show. It was choreographed by Taina Bey ’16, who was also one of the dancers. Every dancer was incredibly graceful and light. The most memorable part of the piece was when they all huddled up, swaying to the music, and, one by one, each rolled and crawled away. “Swoop ‘n plunge,” a solo by Victoria Gonzalez ’16, was the second performance of the night. Field recordings of wind created most of the sound, which was a stunning accompaniment to Gonzalez’s isolated movement of her head and shoulders.
This show was the result of months of work by the seniors, who have undergone “physical and theoretical research [for their thesis] since last Fall,” as Sarah Achartz ’16 said in her introduction to the Senior Dance Concert. Achartz choreographed “Pieces and Parts” for the show, which was performed by Julia Antinozzi ’18, Serena Anne Cattau ’19 and Gina Mantica ’16. The music — Nicholas Godin’s “Bach Off” — was jazzy and upbeat as the dancers started off in sync and then energetically branched off on their own.
Jessica Beliles ’16, with the help of the dancers, choreographed “Things We Keep (The Things You Leave Behind).” Beliles also collaborated with Elise Parisian ’16, whose art depicting forearms was projected onto the back wall. This reflected the artist’s fascination with hands and arms. The dancers hugged each other, supported each other and touched each other, showing the way our arms can connect us. Beliles “hopes to continue her inquiries into time, embodiment, and intimacy through performance and choreography,” she wrote.
After “Things We Keep” was the piece “Slanted Vantage,” which was choreographed by Ella Ansell ’16 in collaboration with Brit Claiborne ’16. It seemed to tell the entertaining story of two sisters, fighting and trying to outdo one another. At one point, one of the dancers stuck her foot in the other’s face. The audience laughed throughout the piece, relating to the sisterly struggle.
The final dance of the show was entitled “flowers from afar,” choreographed and performed by Ali Naranjo ’16. In this piece, she “explores the tension between precision and ambiguity, high design and humanness, and strength and vulnerability.” Her body seemed to be made out of elastic as she moved across the stage. The sound, which was created from field recordings of a star and John Hopkins’ “Apparition,” perfectly complimented the star-like lighting, designed by Lihui Lydia Zhang ’18.
The Senior Thesis Dance Concert was a fantastic tribute to the work these seniors have put in these last four years. It is a testament to the strength of Smith’s dance department.