Kent Dance Ensemble is ‘Movin’ On Up’

Kent Dance Ensemble

Kent Dance Ensemble

Lily Martis

Twelve dancers will set foot on the E. Turner Stump Theatre stage this weekend, moving to the carefully choreographed rhythms of modern and jazz music.

The Kent Dance Ensemble will continueits season with concert “Movin’ On Up” opening Friday, April 4 at 8 p.m. with additional performances at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m.

The ensemble will perform six jazz and modern dances featuring the choreography of four faculty members and two guest artists.

“There are 12 dancers, and all perform three pieces in the concert,” said Kimberly Karpanty, an associate professor and the Ensemble’s artistic director. “One is their strength, one is their challenge and then all perform in the full ensemble piece.”

Opening the concert is “Midnight,” which is choreographed by Karen Stokes, a guest artist from Houston. In the piece, Stokes explores a world between sunset and sunrise, embodying the transition between sleep and wakefulness.

Creating a play on the title word through her choreography, Karpanty then premieres “Caught.”

“Kim plays with the literal and metaphorical meanings of the word ‘caught,’” said Katie Scekeres, a dancer in the piece. “When we first started rehearsing, she read to us all the different definitions so that we had different images for ‘caught’ instead of just catching something in your hands.”

Scekeres, a senior BFA dance major and the ensemble’s student artistic director, will perform the duet with Jasmine Perry, a junior dance education major.

“This piece is very athletic, and I am caught and dropped repeatedly,” Scekeres said. “Jasmine and I are both very strong dancers, and this choreography is a great way to show off our strengths.”

“Three Sister Sonata,” a modern work choreographed by Barbara Allegra Verlezza, an associate professor, will follow that performance.

“Faux Pas” will follow, and is choreographed by Christopher Morgan, a guest artist from Washington, D.C., and will feature seven dancers.

“The piece includes different reactions and actions when someone — or yourself — steps out of line,” said Roberta Bailey, a junior BFA dance major and dancer in the piece. “It’s vigorous and uptempo.”

This season’s ensemble piece, “The World Above Us,” is choreographed by Joan Meggitt, an assistant professor, and will feature all 12 dancers in the ensemble. In the piece, two soloists, Dana Wasielewski and Jessica Gasdick, portray women who have hallucinations of angels, which are portrayed by the other members of the ensemble.

“The soloists,” Karpanty said, “go through three sets of women with visions of angels — both good and bad — to show how those angels affect your choices on earth.”

Closing the concert is “Purposefully Alive,” a mix of hip-hop twists and jazz movement, and is choreographed by Danielle Stevens, a part-time dance faculty member.

“This piece is the most lively and upbeat of the concert,” Bailey said. “As the closing number, it leaves a lasting feeling of self-worth, non-stop energy and fun.”

Since its formation in 1990, the Kent Dance Ensemble provides sophomore through senior dancers with a professional atmosphere and structure to prepare them for a future career in dance.

“Last year’s ensemble, titled ‘New View,’ was mostly sophomores who were new to the ensemble,” Karpanty said. “This year, I titled it ‘Movin’ On Up’ because, as juniors in their second season, I feel they are really moving forward with their skills and in their quest to become professionals.”

Next year will be the ensemble’s 25th anniversary, with nine out of 12 of the dancers returning.

“By bringing in different guest artists, as well as working with different faculty members, we have the chance to expand our education in new ways,” said Nina Price, a junior dance performance major and second year member of the Kent Dance ensemble. “It shows off the strength and commitment we have developed as an ensemble.”

Contact Lily Martis at [email protected].