By Tristan E. M. Leach
Excited chatter filled the theater as people began to take their seats. On stage, videos of dance performances gave the audience a taste of what was to come. The lights went down and the stage was covered in a warm yellow glow. It was time for the dance department’s Fall Student Dance Concert.
On Nov. 10 and 11, the department premiered the new program, which expanded on the previous performance, known as “Dance Day.” The show featured 11 student-choreographed pieces and two short dance films that showcased solo work. At the start of the year, dance majors were invited to audition their pieces. After going through the audition process, each choreographer chose their cast from dance majors and minors.
The two shows differed on Friday and Saturday. On Friday, 24 high school students interested in the major spent a day with students in the program. The day included panels, a dance workshop and an opportunity to perform on the Bart Luedeke Center Theater stage at the end of the concert.
Christine Colosimo, visiting lecturer of dance, curated the performance. Colosimo was thrilled with the performance and was happy to see how many high school students participated in the day.
“[The department] expanded ‘Dance Day’ so that the recruitment at open house grew into a larger event. The high school students got to actually dance on stage and feel what it was like to be a dance major,” said Colosimo. “That engagement of being on a university stage really excited them, and making a new friend who is already a college dance major would be really fun for them.”
This new expansion worked just as Colosimo and the rest of the department hoped. Many of the high school students who attended the event have already reached out to Colosimo with their interest. At the end of Friday night’s performance, the 24 high school students got to improv on stage for two minutes. For part of the short performance, dance majors and minors joined the students. Colosimo attributes this opportunity to getting more potential students through the door.
While the Saturday night performance did not include improv, the performance was full of the same energy and excitement. President Gregory Dell’Omo and his wife, Polly Dell’Omo, attended the show, much to the happiness of families and friends of the performers. Aniky Salima, a senior dance major, choreographed and assisted in the producing of the show.
Salima said, “I met with Christine to talk about some of the ideas I had, and then I was allowed the opportunity to hold auditions where other dancers could audition for my piece. The choreographic piece took about eight weeks.”
Salima started putting together how she wanted her piece to look and what she wanted for the dance over the summer. The topics of pieces ranged throughout the show from dystopia to the beauty of lesbian love. Each piece captured the audience and immersed them in the stories on stage.
Once time got closer to the performances, aspects including costuming, lighting, hair and makeup were added, and the finishing touches were made. Peter G. Borg, Rider’s photographer, came for a special photoshoot that showcased some of the greatest moments in each dance.
Colosimo and Samila expressed their gratitude to everyone who made this new opportunity possible and stressed the importance of giving back to the arts and appreciating the beauty of dance.
The night ended with bows from the student dancers and choreographers, who were given a bouquet of flowers from Colosimo. In the lobby, families and friends waited to greet performers with hugs, smiles and flowers.
Felicia Roehm is the opinion editor for The Rider News and was a performer in the Fall Student Dance Concert. Roehm had no part in the writing or editing of this piece.