Student-produced dance festival will feature abstract choreography inspired by works of art

Sara Petersen

Students rehearse for “No Explanation Needed,” a student-produced dance performance opening in Wright-Curtis Theatre tonight at 8 p.m. CAITLIN SIRSE | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

No explanation is needed for this year’s Student Dance Festival.

The title “No Explanation Needed” comes from the fact that in modern dance, there are no right or wrong answers, said Student Director Nicole O’Malley, junior dance performance major.

“A lot of the time our family comes up to us and goes, ‘I liked it but what did it mean?'” O’Malley said. “Our title ‘No Explanation Needed’ is so that you can just put your own meaning to it and we shouldn’t need to explain it to you. It’s up to you, whatever you perceive it as…that’s fine with us.”

The Student Dance Festival is student-produced and is a requirement for junior dance performance majors. Dance Education majors must apply to be a choreographer for the Student Dance Festival. This is the first time many of the choreographers have composed dances of their own on a college level.

“Most of us usually dance instead of choreograph, so it’s like our first time choreographing,” O’Malley said.

Seven junior dance performance and dance education majors and minors choreographed the dances for this year’s production. All of the technicians and dancers are Kent State students, some are dance majors or minors, but many are also non-dance majors. Along with choreographing for the first time, many of the students are experiencing pulling together costumes and lighting as well.

Sammie Weinmann, junior dance education major and choreographer, said she has never designed costumes or lighting before.

“It’s different to look at my dancers and think, ‘What do I want them to wear?'” Weinmann said.

The seven choreographers all chose modern dance for this year’s Student Dance Festival and used different things as inspiration for their dances.

A series of poems, sculptures and paintings served as a muse for one choreographer, while another was influenced by the phrase “e pluribus unum” on a penny, which means, “Out of many, one.” Past relationships with siblings created one piece while another theme is inspired by a battle between personalities.

Weinmann said she wanted to portray different parts of going through multiple personalities in her piece, along with having a unique idea.

“I wanted to do something out of the ordinary,” Weinmann said. “I was just coming up with things that we learned in different classes like psychology, and I was thinking of topics that people wouldn’t think about that are connected to dance.”

Four dancers perform her piece, each one representing a different personality. One personifies “anger,” another dancer is “happy,” another is more of a sensual character and the last dancer is a person viewing her different personalities as if through a TV screen.

Weinmann said she had a hard time with some of her choreography.

“I move more angry, kind of slashy movements,” she said. “With happy, I tried to do soft movements, and that really isn’t a part of my creative process.”

Weinmann said she thought of different words, such as “slash, throw and sharp” when choreographing for the angry dancer, and used words like “upbeat” and “joyous” to help her with the happy choreography.

She said she also researched what it would be like to have multiple personalities and had a strong image of what she wanted before she choreographed her piece.

“The way I like to choreograph is to have an idea of exactly what I want,” Weinmann said. “It’s hard for me to be abstract; I have to have an idea like a narrative.”

O’Malley found her inspiration from the book “Twilight,” when Edward Cullen told Bella they were at an impasse.

“It sounded like my relationship at the time,” O’Malley said. “It means stuck at a position or situation where it’s too difficult to get past, and I thought it’d be a good theme for a piece.”

O’Malley used the arena seating to her advantage when choreographing.

“The dancers are stuck in this area and they can’t get out, and they’re trying to get through to the audience, but they can’t,” she said.

The Student Dance Festival opens at 8 tonight in Wright-Curtis Theatre and will run at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $16 for adults, $12 for seniors, alumni, faculty and staff and $8 for students.

Contact performing arts reporter Sara Petersen at [email protected].