College students dance through fall concert
MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury College Department of Theatre and Dance presents the annual Fall Dance Concert on Nov. 22 and 23, at the Mahaney Arts Center. This year’s show, “Unwritten Collective,” is a compilation of five student choreographers’ original work, developed under the direction of Assistant Professor of Dance Laurel Jenkins. The evening will also include the Newcomers’ Piece choreographed and filmed by Artist in Residence of Dance Tori Lawrence.
Using improvisation, singing, narrative, touch and elaborate lighting, this collection explores the tenderness and difficulties of the relationships we have with others and ourselves. The ideas of belonging, emotionality, play and transitions bring up questions with no easy answer: When does a person become themself? How do we create space for others to belong? What builds a bond between people, and how should connection be qualified? Through moments of uncertainty, the dances ask what it means to grow into oneself as part of a community.
Artist in Residence Tori Lawrence has been working this semester with seven Middlebury students for the annual “Newcomers’ Piece,” open to those who have not previously participated in a dance program performance. The students feature in a 16mm dance film created in the countryside of Shoreham, Vergennes and Charlotte. The film is accompanied by live music, composed and performed by guest artists Cole Highnam and Seth Wenger. Sound effects are created and performed live as the film screens. Dancers include Hannah Ennis ’22.5, Cat La Roche ’21, Maggie Joseph ’20, Justin Morande ’21.5, Peter Sergay ’22, Graham Shelor ’23, and Mariana Tahiri ‘22.
Marquise Adaleye’s piece, “Make Me,” questions how the emotions of our primary relationships influence our development. The piece, performed by Alyssa Brown ’20, Ladji Mouflet ’21, Katelan Newman ’20, Keith Oliver ’20, and Emily Rodriguez ’20, uses movement and light to express personal emotional experiences which create a bridge between the audience and the performers. Utilizing touch, repetition, and intense light, “Make Me” presents a complex world of relationships and emotions in rich color.
In “The Next Chapter,” Asha Williams ’22.5 focuses on a personal journey in three parts: “Naked,” “In Flux,” and “Unwritten.” The unique styles of the dancers Cheryl Engmann ’22, Lilly Laesch ’23, Graham Shelor ’23, and Asha Williams imbue the choreography with a multiplicity of voices, taking the audience on an evocative journey of their choosing. “The Next Chapter” builds a narrative of self-discovery through music and high-energy movement.
Lucy Grinnan ’19.5 has choreographed “mythweaver,” a work which explores the personal dimension of Greek myths of transformation and the vulnerability of being caught in the act of becoming. Grounded in a reinterpretation of the story of Arachne and Athena, the work constantly reinvents itself as dancers grow from monstrous solitude to human community. The piece, in which Grinnan dances with Jess Garner ’19.5, Christian Kummer ’22, Mai Thuong ’22, and Chloe Zinn ’22, uses contact and voice to construct both menacing creatures and human relationships on stage, displaying the double purposes of webs: to separate and to support.
Inspired by a kinesthetic appreciation of the dancers’ bodies, John Cambefort ’21 began creating “In Plain Sight” with the word “play” in mind. This trio with Cambefort, kOle Lekhutle ’20, and Martin Troška ’21, incorporates the intensity with which kOle draws the audience into his world and the way Martin’s gaze catches the eye. This collaborative exploration heightens individual strengths; as the piece unfolds, the playful themes of connection, proximity, and intimacy tumble and mix together in a delightful expression of authenticity.
Sam Kann ’20.5, along with musician Noah Sauer ’20 and dancers Caleb Green ’19.5, Leila Faulstich-Hon ’20, Haegan O’Rourke ’22, and Maia Sauer ’22, drew on their memories of connection and disconnection to create “Is This Where I’m Supposed to Stand?” This work considers how people can be the same and yet not belong together, while an eclectic group of individuals can neatly fit together. Investing in internal sensation, the dance contrasts the deepness of belonging to yourself with the vulnerability of performing the self for others. Finally, it asks how we make room for others to belong–by sticking to our own corners or by filling the boundless space, welcoming people into it with us.
Come check out these new moves on Friday and Saturday, at 7:30 p.m., in the Dance Theatre of the Mahaney Art Center. Tickets are $15 for the general public; $12 for Middlebury College faculty, staff, alumni, emeriti, and other ID card holders; $8 for youth 18 and under; and $6 for Middlebury College students, and are available by calling 802-443-MIDD (6433) or visiting go.middlebury.edu/arts.
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