Innovation of Rider Dances

From left, senior Stephanie Lewis, freshman Rachel Roman, senior Ashley Miller and sophomore Taylor Miller
From left, senior Stephanie Lewis, freshman Rachel Roman, senior Ashley Miller and sophomore Taylor Miller

By J’na Jefferson

Dance students performing contemporary and classical dances will combine with performance art during the Rider University Dance Program’s annual showcase, Rider Dances: Collaborate and Innovate, which will be performed on March 7 at 7:30 p.m. and March 8 at 2 p.m in the Bart Luedeke Center Theater.

The pieces were choreographed by dance program faculty members, special guests and faculty members of the American Repertory Ballet’s Princeton Ballet School (ARB). According to Dr. Kim Chandler-Vaccaro, associate professor of dance, Rider’s dance program and ARB have had a unique and special relationship.

Rider Dances began a partnership with American Repertory Ballet’s Princeton Ballet School in an effort to get movement classes for its theater majors,” she said. “The program became very popular and now has nearly 50 majors and minors, a B.A. in performance, and concentrations with arts administration and elementary education.”

Performances include pieces by choreographer Laney Engelhard with musician Luis Andrei Cobo; Dr. Kim Chandler-Vaccaro and junior arts administration major Ashley Alvarez with musician Madeline Prentice; choreographers Janell Bryne and Rider alumna Jennifer Gladney; choreographer Christine Colosimo with visual artist Eva Flatscher; choreographers Ted Thomas and Francis Ortiz (the winners of last year’s Emerging Choreographers competition); and composer Dr. Ron Hemmel with choreographer Dawn Berman.

Hemmel will also be debuting his composition, “Night Moves,” at the showcase. The piece is written for a string quartet and piano.

“I was motivated by the opportunity to collaborate with my colleague, Dr. Vaccaro, and the support of a Rider University Summer Fellowship,” said Hemmel, who recorded the piece last summer. Rider Dances will be the first time he is seeing dance set to this particular piece of work. “I won’t know what it feels like until I see it, but we have an amazing dance program here so I expect a fabulous performance.”

Each year, Rider Dances has a different theme. This year’s theme, Collaborate and Innovate, combines choreography ideas and artistic ideas to create innovative and stunning visual art.

“Christine Colosimo is collaborating with international visual artist Eva Flatscher, who will be painting in live time over the dancers on stage. It has never been seen in our area before and is truly unique,” Vaccaro said of one of the many pieces to hit the stage this weekend.

Dance majors and minors auditioned for Rider Dances in October and have been rehearsing for the past six weeks. Rehearsals are held for several hours a day, multiple times a week, with rehearsal hours intensifying as the performance draws near. Senior dance performance major Mariah Lopez believes that performances such as Rider Dances are preparing her for a career in the dance and arts industry.

“Performing at Rider helps me prepare for the long hours and unpredictable atmospheres that come with performance,” she said. “This year’s show is about the growth and acceptance of reality for me. It’s definitely a test.”

Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for Rider faculty and staff, non-Rider students and senior citizens (55+) and $5 for Rider University students with valid ID. 

Printed in the 3/4/15 edition

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