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Moving Stories: Innovative student choreography explores deeply personal themes and perspectives

By Kelsey Hutchison
On November 9, 2011

  • Volleyball seniors and their parents together at Senior Night. Photo Courtesy of Lisa Youngentoub

Moving Stories 2011 showcases the new works of advanced student choreographers: Jeremy Arnold '12, Matt Austin '12, Krista Bacchieri '12, Laura Baehr '12, Candace Eaton '12, Kelsey Hutchison '13, Christine Marty '12, AlexJo Natale '12, Sioned Papparotto '12, Christine Pepin '12, Nina Pongratz '13, Meredith Stapleton '13, and Jackie Walsh '12.
Over 50 dancers from all class years will perform on the Baker stage. Faculty member Constance Case has created over 70 costumes and the lighting is designed by faculty member Paul Theisen Jr.
Under the artistic direction of Karen Dearborn, Director of Dance, each of the 13 choreographers has navigated and cultivated experiences in order to create a unique perspective on the world. Moving Stories asks the audience to be open and receptive to the multiplicity of these perspectives and invites the viewer to see the world in a new way.
Christine Marty '12 is choreographing a piece in which the dancers hang upside-down on bars and contort their bodies into twisted shapes to embody the confusion of different points of view.
"My cast is exploring shifting perspectives while navigating a world flipped upside-down," Marty says.
Seen on Fox's So You Think You Can Dance, Jeremy Arnold '12 is choreographing a tap piece set to classical music. During the piece, Andy Zepp '12 will DJ live on turntables, adding an additional element to further complicate the relationship of classical music and tap dance.
Choreographer Meredith Stapleton '13 explores cultural gestures of prayer. Her cast has been rehearsing all over campus in various places such as the Zen garden and the Chapel.
"My piece is an exploration of spirituality," Stapleton says. "My cast and I are currently exploring ideas of structured religion, individual journeys of faith, a bit of existentialism, and trying to believe in something you just don't believe in."
By presenting the balletic structure and then slowly deconstructing it, Jackie Walsh '12 shifts from the classical to the contemporary genre of ballet within her dance.
Choreographer Kelsey Hutchison '13 has been exploring the multiplicity of layers that exist beneath the ocean tides while playing with unconventional partnering.
"I find contact improvisation, in which the dancers give and take each other's weight, a useful tool for creating," Hutchison says.
AlexJo Natale '12 is creating a piece inspired by the mockingbird myth. She is working with various bird imagery and symbols, such as talons, feathers, and a nest of tangled limbs.
Tackling a piece on the concept of how age affects memory and understanding, choreographer Nina Pongratz '13 says, "Within my piece, my dancers and I are exploring our memories and what has remained meaningful to us over these past 10 years."
Life is full of unavoidable tragedies and misfortunes, and Laura Baehr '12 is striving to put these mishaps in a comic light by exploring comedic elements from the vaudeville and silent movie eras. Comedians such as Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton will inform her work, poking fun at the farce that is life.
"Moving Stories is designed to inspire and challenge audiences," Dearborn says. "These visually lush dances offer a view of our present and future through contemporary eyes. It is always exciting to be enveloped in these kinetic and symbolic works of art - to be moved by the movement."
Moving Stories is an invitation to explore and play with a plethora of perspectives. Each work beckons the viewer to delve into the choreographer's mind to question, uncover, and discover life in a new and intriguing way. What the audience will find are 13 individual and innovative moving stories.
Performances are Thurs. and Fri., Nov. 17-18, at 8 pm, and Sat., Nov. 19, at 2 pm and 8 pm. Campus tickets are $7. Performances are in the Baker Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for Theatre and Dance. Call 484-664-3333, Mon. through Fri. 12 am to 6 pm for ticket reservations, or online at www.muhlenberg.edu/tickets.


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