In October 2015, Choreographers on Campus arranged a collaboration between Geology Professor David Sunderlin’s Paleobiology class and Alison Chase Performance dancers. Here are some of the students’ thoughts about the experience.
“I think the most successful part of the experience was the culminating activity where we had to convey two paleobiology concepts in movement as it gave us the chance to really make sure we understood the material well enough to convey it in dance form to an audience, then also having the audience digest what they saw and try to guess the concepts and then critique the work to make it better was also helpful. I think the least successful part was some of the getting off the ground exercises that people seemed to struggle with. I may continue to explore how I can use movement to help better understand and remember information in the future.”
“It was fun to get moving with some friends I would never “dance” with or who don’t dance at all. I liked how people critiqued and then we worked together to make their concept dances better (George, Jack and Haley with their mountain building and eroding thing)”
“It was cool learning the counter weight things. It would be interesting to assign this challenge to courses in other fields and see what those students come up with. Thanks a lot for a fun week!”
“It provided a unique experience and a unique perspective to the science. It pushed comfort zones, which is something that I personally struggle with and I know many others do, so in some ways that was good while in others it was somewhat discomforting. I would like to try to think of the science that I love through more types of perspectives now.”
We have a very exciting event coming up THIS TUESDAY, October 21st at 5:30pm in the Pfenning Alumni Center. The Dance, Health, and Wellness Symposium, led by our own principal choreographer-in-residence Ben Munisteri and head strength and conditioning coach Brad Potts, will feature a panel of prominent choreographers talking about how their choreography is influenced by healthcare practices and vice versa. These panelists include:
David Leventhal, formerly a Mark Morris dancer now with “Dance for Parkinsons”
Keely Garfield, who works with dance for cancer/hospice care and stress reduction
Elisabeth Motley, who works with individuals with neurologic disorders
Tamar Rogoff, who creates dance and film at the intersection of art and medicine
The evening will conclude with a question-and-answer session moderated by physical therapist Gayanne Grossman, of Lehigh Valley Health Network and Muhlenberg College.
There will also be FREE health/wellness screenings before the event, performed by members of Good Shepherd Physical Therapy- Performing Arts Rehabilitation Center. To schedule one, email Kelly Prentice at email@example.com.
Please join us for what is sure to be a great event. All are welcome and community members are encouraged to attend. The event will be held in the Wilson Room in Pfenning Alumni Center. For more info, click HERE.
I hope to see you there!
-Carly Trachtman, Choreographers on Campus Student Representative
When Jamie Rae said at the beginning of the master class that she has grown a quarter of an inch since doing body contractions because they’ve stretched her spine, she immediately grabbed my attention. Not only was it a rich experience talking to a dancer in the Paul Taylor Dance Company, but dancing with her enriched my dance experience.
In the first dance warm up Jamie Rae had us heavily focus on contracting our torso. She said even though contractions make the body look temporarily bunched, they are instrumental in lengthening the spine. We started doing contractions side to side on the ground keeping our bodies connected to the floor at all times. She wanted us to feel like we were planted in the ground through the whole exercise.
After the class I felt reenergized, and also relaxed. Even though many of the moves were new to me, such as bending my body into different contractions, the supportive mood in the room made me feel at ease.
I absolutely loved the master class. Beyond the actual dance component of it, I was incredibly appreciative of their honest and open nature. In the past, I’ve often encountered dance teachers who demand, with little acknowledgement of how the student may feel uncomfortable, or in the other direction, attempt to assuage discomfort by stating “everyone feels that way!” with the latter usually not being as successful as intended. MADBoots, on the other hand, was able to accomplish this ease without any air of superiority or pretentiousness. Through their actions, supplemented by their words, they created a welcoming learning environment where we as students felt free to “play” from the directions given to us. During our warm-up, we were told to “get sloppy” and spent time simply running around and dropping quickly to the floor. Running – and dropping again. It sounds silly, but I think it really connected us to a childlike abandon that is often forgotten or pushed aside – an abandon that could very well be helpful when connecting ourselves to our movement. Participating in a warm-up such as this, that had many organic qualities rather than typical dance-technique inspired movements, was revelatory to me both as dancer and psychology major.
And that was just the warm-up! We then learned a combination that was challenging not necessarily for each individual step, but for its unique flow. It had a downward-emphasized slinky quality that was different and exciting. Both members of MADBoots were more than happy to answer questions, review the choreography, and truly wanted us to just give it what we could and enjoy it, without any expectation of perfecting or performing.
Overall, I was grateful for such accepting members of the dance community to provide this series of classes for us. I left feeling invigorated, with my eyes set on that next class! -Rebecca Murray, Senior Psychology Major
The class with Keely Garfield reinforced my new understanding of how specific the thought process can be behind the choreography of a dance. Like Nora Gibson, who brought together elements of math and her personal background to make a dance, Keely shared with us how her personal life and interests helped her create her own style. In our class session we were able to mediate, write, and personify “Fifteen Structural Features” that represent beauty. An important lesson I took away from the class is how it is important to free ourselves creatively and not have self doubt. Also, it is important to be aware of the placement of our bodies in dance and our surroundings. -Leslie Teshima, Senior English major
I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop with Keely Garfield last Wednesday. She is such a unique artist in that she uses dance to portray events and feelings around her. What particularly stuck out to me was her dance titled “Meditation,” in which she basically choreographed all her thoughts as she tried to quiet her mind. I thought this was such an interesting experience to portray one’s thoughts in such a way. She also attributed her inspiration for many dances to the horror of 9/11, and had her dancers wear red. I find Keely incredibly inspirational in how she choreographs. She is an authentic artist who seeks to express her voice through movement; it was an amazing opportunity to have her in class.
-Natalie Nollan, Sophomore Anthopology and Sociology/Economics Major
Greetings everyone! It’s an exciting time of year, almost time for the beginning of another school year! One of the things that I am really excited about right now is that the rehearsal space in the former Mohican building is just about ready for use! Ben Munisteri’s “Experiencing Dance” course will take place in this space, as well as various master classes and the Lafayette Dance Company’s Fall Showcase. Here is a view of some of the windows of the new studio space!
Another exciting thing that the beginning of the school year brings is master classes! We have some fabulous master classes towards the beginning of the year that are sponsored by the Choreographers on Campus grant. One of them will be with Ron K. Brown who is also performing at the Williams Center on September 19th (https://calendar.lafayette.edu/node/11787) and leading a brown bag discussion September 18th (https://calendar.lafayette.edu/node/11652). There will also be a master class series with Jonathan Campbell and Austin Diaz of MADboots dance co. occurring on September 13th, September 20th, and October 18th. We have some other fabulous arts coming to do residencies at the beginning of the year as well, such as Nora Gibson who will be working with math professor Derek Smith to create work August 27th-31st and Keely Garfield on September 10th.
The beginning of the school year is always a crazy time. But a great way to take a break from your busy schedule is to kick back and enjoy a dance performance at the Williams Center! Or sweat out all that stress in a master class! I know that’s what I’ll be doing! Make sure to keep checking the Choreographers on Campus website for blog posts throughout the year. We will keep you informed on all things dance at Lafayette!
-Carly Trachtman, Junior Economics and Math Major, Choreographers on Campus Student Representative
Lafayette College was awarded $450,000 by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a dance project called “Choreographers on Campus.” The project brings the finest established and emerging choreographers to the Lehigh Valley to engage in artistic creation and sustained collaboration.
In 2014, Lafayette launched a mix of performance, master and teaching residencies, workshops, lectures and less structured conversations on at least five college campuses, in partnership with five member colleges of the Dance Consortium of the Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges. Participating LVAIC colleges include DeSales University, Lehigh University, Moravian College and Muhlenberg College.
The project’s goals as stated in the July 29, 2013 proposal are as follows:
1) Broaden the network of potential collaborators for choreographers with professional dance practitioners, other performers and scholars in other fields of inquiry—working within a varied regional cluster of campus environments;
2) Expand the opportunities for undergraduate students from all backgrounds to interact with visiting choreographers—both in and out of the classroom (including traditional and non-traditional performance venues) as well as in structured and in less structured ways—with the aim that they will participate in the creative process of dance as well as experience dance performances;
3) Support faculty and staff members through professional development activities focused on the ways in which dance and performance can be integrated into the broader study of the liberal arts, particularly in a global context, and engage important contemporary issues facing the next generation; and
4) Establish further the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania as an important regional center for dance, encourage new participants in dance performance, and expand the audiences for dance through activities and performances on LVDC campuses and in the Lehigh Valley community (comprised of the cities of Easton, Bethlehem, and Allentown and the surrounding suburban and rural townships of Northampton/Lehigh counties).