By Danielle Gittleman
Some Rider students have a passion for dance, and, consequently, never stop dancing. For the first time, Rider held an Emerging Choreographers competition to find some of the best choreographers out there today. The result will be the Emerging Choreographers Showcase of the winning dances on May 3.
The competition was open to aspiring young choreographers from all over the world. After receiving more than 50 applications, the search was narrowed down to 20 finalists who came to Rider along with their dancers to audition in January. The auditions took place in front of a panel of famous dancers and choreographers, including Edward Villella, former principal dancer with the New York City Ballet; Douglas Martin, artistic director of The American Repertory Ballet; Dr. Kimberly Chandler Vaccaro, assistant professor of dance; and Kerry Gallagher Rowan, curator of The American Dance Legacy Institute.
After some intense competition, the judges offered critique and feedback to each dancer and then narrowed the dances down to six finalists, who will have their dances performed in the May showcase.
“Whittling to the chosen six was a little bit more difficult, but we were really looking at what would challenge our dancers at Rider the most, what was most suitable and what ideas were the most developed and the most complete,” explained Vaccaro.
The six final choreographers include Ted Thomas and Frances Ortiz, of Thomas and Ortiz Dance; Alyssa Derling, of Derling Dance Arts; Nicole Bugge, of Bugge Ballet; Alyson Laury, of Alyson Laury Dance Co.; Robert Mark Burke; and Jillian Davis.
“The dynamic between the choreographers and the panel was far more exciting and interesting then we had anticipated,” said Pamela Mingle, associate director of University Advancement. “There were some great conversations that happened about creating dance and creating art. It really exceeded our expectations.”
This was the first year that the competition was held at Rider and it was a great experience for the university and the participating choreographers.
“It was fantastic inviting all of these wonderful dancers and choreographers to our campus,” said Vaccaro. “The energy was amazing and they were so responsive. There was so much talent and so much excitement that this was happening in our area.”
The showcase is set to take place at the Bart Luedeke Center (BLC) Theater on May 3 at 7:30 p.m., and is open to Rider students as well as the general public. Once all of the performances conclude, one of the six choreographers will be chosen to have his or her piece performed in next year’s Rider Dances.
Before the showcase, Villella will teach a master class for Rider dance majors, choreographers and dancers, according to Mingle.
“It’s a really unique opportunity for our dance majors to take a class with someone that’s at the top of the field, and, at the same time, be exposed to these professional dancers and choreographers and that work ethic,” said Mingle.
After the performance, Villella, along with some of the other members of the panel of judges, will hold an open discussion about the choreographers and their dancers for all of the audience to participate in.
The competition was very successful and Rider is hoping to make this an annual event.
The performances begin at 7:30 p.m. in the BLC Theater. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students and senior citizens.
Printed in the 4/30/14 edition