Moving Resiliency: A Screendance Festival

Friday, February 26 at 7 & 8pm

Saturday, February 27 at 7pm

Under the cloud of Covid restrictions, Denison dance students continued to produce exciting aesthetic and cultural work both in and out of class, even when isolated, out in the elements, or relegated to the screen. This Screendance Festival represents their work from last semester, Fall 2020, that they share with excitement and eagerness for continuing to dance.

Friday night’s “short” program features six 5-minute dances that were created in response to summer research and classroom assignments. Three students, Emma Driver ’23, Abby Masturzo ’23, and Fiona Shepherd ’23 were awarded Early Experience Research Awards in order to “lean into and embrace the messiness of the creative process as we delve deeper into our choreographic investigations.” The trio said, “We hope to further inquiries begun in classes and rehearsals this year, where we have begun to discover and play with our individual creative identities.”.

Professor Gill Wright Miller’s Dance as an Art Form class investigated mid-20th century Chance Dance. Three of these dances represent three different responses to the relationship between movement and sound—the first completely by chance, the second with the sound created to the dance, and the third with the dance created to the sound. In all three dances, the students worked with four movements randomly ordered and altered by facings, timing, and camera angles—all of which were arrived at by submitting them to random patterns.

The two remaining pieces were classroom projects directed by Associate Professor Ojeya Cruz Banks. Featuring students from the class African Diaspora Dance, this short work explores the social evolution, diversity and social history of the dance family tree. The short program will close with Say It Loud, featuring students from Global Hip Hop and African Performance. Having learned about choreographic philosophies of Freestyle and House, the students developed movement and music responses to world-renowned contemporary Black visual artists that were featured at the Denison Museum.

Saturday night’s “long” program features Spiral Fourteen: a dance for the camera. This 70-minute work highlights the fourteen ensemble members of Assistant Professor Molly Shanahan’s Contemporary Dance and Performance course, and celebrates the dancers’ resiliency during the Covid-19 era. Filmed by Shanahan, this longer work encapsulates the work of Contemporary Dance and Performance from last semester. “I wanted to soften the sense of the camera’s lens as intrusive, objectifying, or evaluative,” she said. “That was an interesting challenge, since I am indeed the professor and the person responsible for overseeing the class.” Shanahan wanted to ensure that her students were able to express themselves through dance in this anything-but-normal year, and her classes collaborated to find a safe but creative way to continue their art. “I was committed (for the advanced class involved in Spiral Fourteen) to providing as many creative solutions to getting us dancing together, live/in-person and as often as possible to work outside to cultivate a sense of safety regarding the pandemic,” Shanahan said.

Maggie Lemaster ‘22, who is featured in Spiral Fourteen: a dance for the camera, has been involved with dance at Denison since her freshman year. She said that though she misses the intimacy of in-person performances, she is excited for her peers to see what the ensemble has done under such unusual circumstances. “My favorite memory from this experience has been the ability to continue moving with a sense of freedom through the utilization of outdoor spaces on campus, as well as the opportunity to perform in a time when formal performances are so hard to coordinate safely,” she said.

Open to Denison students, faculty and staff. Advanced tickets required.

Posted Date 
Thursday, February 25, 2021

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