The Artist’s Corner: Sophia Arnall ’17

Becca Damante ’17
Arts Editor

The MFA Thesis Dance Concert will be performed at Smith this weekend on Thursday, Feb. 11 and Saturday, Feb. 13 in Theatre 14 of Mendenhall Center for the Performing Arts. This week, I had the chance to talk with Sophia Arnall ’17, who will be dancing in  the OPshow.

How long have you been dancing? What styles have you learned over the years?

I have been dancing for almost 16 years — since I was five years old. I trained almost exclusively in classical ballet for the first 10 years or so, and then I started to branch out into other styles as well. Since high school, I have studied various types of modern and contemporary dance, and I have developed a love for improvisation since coming to Smith. I have also done tap, jazz and tango incrementally over the years. I love to choreograph and hope to continue to do so in the future.

Where do you find inspiration for your dances and choreography? How do you select the moves, music and style?

I find inspiration all around me, and in differing ways depending on my mood. Sometimes I choose the music for my choreography and make the steps correlate to them directly. Other times I do the opposite, choreographing and then layering the music on top afterwards. There are so many different techniques choreographers use to generate movement. Sometimes I use existing art, visual or otherwise, as inspiration for my own work. Other times I improvise until something feels right, and then I just set it. I have the most experience choreographing solo material on myself, but I look forward to directing a cast of dancers next year for my senior thesis!

You are performing in the MFA Thesis Dance concert this weekend. What can you tell me about the piece you are dancing in?

I am performing in the work of Barbie Diewald, a second-year MFA teaching fellow in the dance department at Smith. Her work is loosely based on the novel “To The Lighthouse” by Virginia Woolf. There are four of us in the cast and we’ve been working on the piece with Barbie since August!

What other pieces will be performed this weekend?

The four pieces are all profoundly different from each other, so I think it’ll be really enjoyable to watch. There is a lot of tech involved in this particular show, including lights, props, costume changes, projection and complex sound.

Why is dance important to you? What is your favorite aspect of it?

Dance is my entire life, and it has been for a long time. It is what I love the most in the entire world, and it gives me so much joy to be able to share it with others. I absolutely love performing, the rush of being on stage and sharing your art and receiving praise for it. I love being able to call myself an artist and to be able to make something beautiful for others to enjoy. I love the physicality of dance and the rigor of our daily practice as dancers. I think everyone should take a dance class at some point in their life!

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