Student to present choreographed dance at festival


Submitted photo

Brooke Bower

Sabatino Verlezza used his experience growing up in the dance studio as an inspiration for his choreographed piece, “Muscle Memory.” Seven dancers will perform his dance for the American College Dance Festival Wednesday at E.J. Thomas Hall in Akron.

“All the movements are pulled and derived from what I remember growing up in the studio,” the junior dance performance and choreography major said. He added that the piece doesn’t have a particular story line, and he just wants to make the audience laugh.

Verlezza presented “Muscle Memory” last weekend at the School of Dance’s Student Dance Festival with seven student dancers. The piece was chosen by Kent State faculty to represent the school at the college festival.

“The entire cast is looking forward to presenting this piece at the American College Dance Festival,” said Jordan Deckert, junior dance performance and choreography major. “We have worked extremely hard on making ‘Muscle Memory’ the best it can be and having the opportunity to perform it at an event such as this is truly an honor.”

Verlezza said both his parents have professional modern dance careers. He said he has done most of his training at the Cleveland School of Dance. He has performed as a company member and choreographed for his father’s company, Verlezza Dance.

He said some of the choreography for the piece is derived from “basic exercises that are simplistic for training the body.” He said choreography typically doesn’t feature basic moves but that it worked for a piece about growing up and learning dance.

“A lot of my time was spent with my father, so there’s lots of references to him,” Verlezza said.

Diane Skerbec, senior dance performance and choreography major, said Verlezza made rehearsals fun with “wacky warm-ups” and that “performing as a crazy character is so thrilling.”

Verlezza said his favorite part of the piece is the end where he references the “lizard- face” his father used to make him laugh as a kid by putting his hands behind his ears to make a lizard frill and sticking his tongue out. Deckert said it is the “most hysterical face” and that she never gets tired of seeing the image.

“I keep laughing, and I’ve watched it a hundred times,” Verlezza said.

He said his piece will be presented anonymously to three judges who are professionals in the field, and he will receive feedback on the piece.

“It’s a true honor, and I’m thrilled to get feedback from professionals,” Verlezza said. “All the faculty members have been a great help in preparing and helping me with this process. My peers have been very supportive, and everyone’s looking forward to the experience.”

Contact Brooke Bower at [email protected].