Dance show explores transition
Through movement and creative expression, Scott Stafford said he has learned to develop his own sense of home and belonging.
As a dancer in three of the four original pieces showcased in Dance is the Answer, a Department of Theatre dance production that focuses on redefining the concept of home and exploring what it means to fit in, the interdisciplinary humanities junior said he was forced to closely examine his current living situation and ponder its significance in his life.
“Being a junior in college, you’re in such a transitory place, and you’re transitioning between the home you grew up in and the home you create (at school),” Stafford said. “(Dance is the Answer) really makes you reflect on it.”
The repertory dance concert, which features about 20 students, opens at 8 p.m. Tuesday in the RCAH Theatre and will run until Sunday.
Rehearsals for the production began in September, and performers have been working closely with two guest artists, Director of Dance/MetroDC Peter DiMuro and co-founder of Underdog Dance Project Heather Vaughan-Southard.
Sherrie Barr, an associate professor in the Department of Theatre and the show’s director, said she selected these two choreographers because she knew they would be willing to work collaboratively with students and contribute to their learning process.
“When student dancers work with a guest choreographer, even though it’s not a class, they’re still learning about choreography and the art form,” she said.
Psychology junior Kaity Sinke said although the rehearsal process for this show was strenuous, the experience was worthwhile because it took her outside of her comfort zone and helped her grow as a dancer.
“The way we choreographed these pieces is very abstract and different,” she said. “It was a challenge — but a fun challenge.”
When working with DiMuro on the dances, Sinke said the choreographer would have her and the other dancers think of objects in their rooms at home to help them relate to the show’s theme and draw them with their bodies.
“We would think of parts of our home, and (DiMuro) would take those movements and mash them together and make up the dance,” she said.
Barr said dance should convey a strong feeling audience members can connect with, and she wanted that to be portrayed in her show.
“We might not even understand how it’s speaking to us, but it can make us feel things,” she said. “It can stir up a memory or a feeling, and I think that’s important for the human soul.”
Stafford said because the show’s theme deals with such a relatable and personal concept, it was easier for him to put more of himself into his performance.
“You can’t fake it,” he said. “If you fake what you’re moving, it’s going to read as fake. You have to be really honest with yourself, and sometimes that’s hard.”
Stafford said he doesn’t think he is the only one who will understand the theme, and he expects audience members will be touched by what they are presented.
“I think it’s a theme that everyone can relate to,” he said. “I think if you come to the show, you can relate to it, (and) you’ll be able to see yourself in the dancers and in the movement.”