The end-of-semester concert features Denison University students performing new dances choreographed by Assistant Professor Molly Shanahan, Visiting Assistant Professor Surya Swilley, Guest Artist Jeff Hancock (Chicago), and student choreographers from the course Choreographic Investigations: Ensemble Dances. Each choreographer’s work responds uniquely to this cultural and personal moment, touching on themes of transformation and transition, melancholy and joy, and embodied protest.

In anticipation for the upcoming dance concert, “In/Visible Spectrum,” a member of the choreography class, Emma Margo ‘23, shed some light on her piece. As a junior Dance and Anthropology double major, Emma spends a lot of her time (upwards of 13 hours a week) in the dance studio, learning and experimenting with her role in the dance world. This is her second choreography class at Denison, though her first was taught partially online due to the pandemic. Emma was also a TA for Dr. Shanahan’s choreography class in a subsequent semester. As a dancer, Emma wants to focus on choreography for her plans after college. This is her first time choreographing for a group and she chose not to dance in her own piece, stating that watching what she has created helps her gain a deeper understanding of the qualities of movement and the technical aspects of dance.

Does your piece have a name? If so, what is it and why did you choose it?

“Painted (Dis)Figure(d)” is the title of my piece. I wanted to capture the beauty of my dancers as humans while also accepting the awkwardness and unconventional look of some of the movements. I decided to include the parentheses in order to include those two sides of my choreography.

How has your vision changed throughout the choreographing process?

I started with the concept of color. I knew I wanted to use that as a driving force of my movement. I then activated the anthropology side of my brain and thought about meaningscapes. I researched color as a meaningscape, and I pulled a lot of inspiration from that. Also, I felt like I was free to create since the meaningscape of color is so under-researched.

What would you say is the main motivation or message in your piece?

I really just want to drive home the point that humans are human because of their own experiences and the ways they choose to describe things. Individuality plays a key role in my piece, but also communal consistency. I think the audience will be able to pick up on some of the unseen meanings we (as people) tie to certain colors, as well as being confused by some of the choices I made. Confusion will always play an essential role in my work.

How has your class been affected by this project?

Our class was actually built around this project. It’s super supportive of our process to begin with, but it was really interesting to see it influenced by myself and my classmates. A lot of our discussions and readings are based directly off of our experiences as choreographers.

Could you tell me a little more about the title for this concert?

“In/Visible Spectrum” as a title is going to mean something different for everyone. For me, it really draws attention to how movement research is conducted. A lot of what we do as dancers goes unseen, but what we produce is always on display. Though it seems like a dancer’s existence is defined by performance, dancers are not bodies to be judged or objectified. We are investigators and researchers of our own bodies, and we invite others to benevolently watch our active research at the moment. So, when you watch a dance performance, the dancers are visible, yet aspects of what we’re doing are invisible.

This fall dance concert event is in Thorsen Dance Studio at the Eisner Center December 3-5.

Friday, December 3, 8pm and Sunday, December 5, 8pm performances will feature choreography from Molly Shanahan, Surya Swilley, Jeff Hancock, Emma Margo, Jess Cohen, Paloma Stripling, and Madrid Joy.

Saturday, December 4, 8pm and Sunday, December 5, 2pm performances will feature choreography from Molly Shanahan, Surya Swilley, Jeff Hancock, Cat Henning, Grace Han, Julia Rizzo, Surbhi Bhandari, and Katie Kress.

November 23, 2021