Graduate’s fancy footwork on display

Choreographers 2015 EDIT_WEB
“Undamely,” a piece choreographed by Thomas/Ortiz Dance for 2014’s competition, is performed in March 2015.

By Emily Klingman and Samantha Brandbergh

A Rider graduate will perform her own choreography in The Emerging Choreographer’s Showcase at Rider on Saturday May 2, in the BLC theater.

Elizabeth Smith, ’14, will be one of six winners performing in the Emerging Choreographer’s showcase. A piece she choreographed, Manipulation, features herself, and dancers Dominique Henderson, Allison Simon, and Alex Vari.

“We are especially proud that one of our own recent graduates was chosen to perform,” said Kimberly Vaccaro, associate professor of dance and showcase panelist. “Liz was an incredible asset to our program.”

The five other winners are: Aaron Atkins, Ballet Inc.; Eryn Renee Young, XAOC Contemporary Ballet Co.; Jake Deibert; Kate Ladenheim, People Mover’s Dance; and Sonia James Pennington, Introspective Dance.

Participants were required to be a beginning choreographer 18 or older, and had to send in a video audition before being selected for the showcase. Fifty candidates applied from all across the country, narrowed down to 20 who were invited to audition with their own dancers in front of the panel of judges in January. From there six winners were selected.

The winners’ works will be featured in the showcase, which will have dance companies and directors in the audience “that will hopefully hire them,” said Pam Mingle, associate director of Major Gifts. In addition to live feedback from judges, each of the winners received an honorarium of $500.

Of the six winning pieces, one by Kate Ladenheim, a choreographer from New York, will receive the opportunity to teach Rider dance majors. Those students will then perform Ladenheim’s piece at the Rider Dances show in March 2016.

The judges at the showcase will be Kimberly Vaccaro; Edward Villella, the celebrated dancer and artistic director; Douglas Martin, artistic director of American Repertory Ballet; and Kerry Gallagher Rowan, Core Network team member and American Dance Legacy Initiative.

In addition to judging the competition, Villella will be leading a discussion about choreography after the performances and what it takes to be a good choreographer.

The showcase is a “wonderful way for our dancers to directly intersect with professionals in the field and get a first look at who is doing what,” Vaccaro said.

The showcase, hosted by the theater and dance department at Rider for the second year, is supported by two unnamed donors.

“The event will be attended by dancers, choreographers, students, artistic directors and master teachers,” Vaccaro said. “Sharing their gifts, their work and understanding of the world of dance as a moving art.”

The event is set to begin at 7:30 p.m.on May 2. Admission is $20 for adults and $10 for students and seniors.

Additional reporting by Esther Folaranmi

printed in the 4/29/15

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