Dancers embody ‘excellence in motion’

Lauren Crist

Faculty-directed show runs this weekend

Students pose for “Handel’s Messiah,” one of the pieces included in this year’s Dance ’08. Lauren Crist | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

The lights have been set, the costumes are finished and the dancers are ready. Tonight, it’s show time.

“It’s really good to finally be on stage and to see costumes and lights,” said Holly Logan, a senior dance performance major. “When it finally comes on stage, you’re ready for an audience and for people to see what you have been a part of, and it’s really satisfying.”

Every year, the School of Theatre and Dance puts together a faculty dance concert. Playing off Kent State’s theme, excellence in action, the theme for this year’s performance is “Dance ’08: Excellence in Motion.” Faculty members choreograph a dance, then students perform it for the concert.


Show times: 8 p.m. tonight and tomorrow, 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: E. Turner Stump Theatre, Music and Speech Building

Ticket price: $8 for students with valid ID or under 18, $12 for Kent State alumni, faculty and staff, $16 for adults

To order tickets: 330-672-2497

“What people are going to see are a lot of different approaches to modern dance,” said Andrea Shearer, coordinator of the dance division for the School of Theatre and Dance. “People are going to hear different sounds, from classical to clarinet music.”

This year, the concert consists of several different styles of modern dance including Handel’s “Messiah” and an upbeat jazz piece titled “Take It Out.”

“It’s really exciting to be a part of something that is kind of historical now that we are getting the (Roe Green Center),” said Melissa Knestaut, a senior majoring in both dance performance and therapeutic recreation. “It kind of shows where we came from.”

One piece, called “Yucuninu,” choreographed by Alicia Diaz, the artist-in-residence for the School of Theatre and Dance, is made up of three dancers who illustrate three stages of life and are accompanied by a video and special effects.

“When I’m dancing, I try to have a clear mind,” said Sharon Kriz, a junior, double majoring in dance performance and the classics, who is performing in “Yucuninu.” “I try to let my body think and just let it come out.”

In Handel’s “Messiah,” the dancers grace the stage, with their elegant costumes rippling with every move.

“(The costumes) are so pretty,” said Sara Perry, a junior dance performance major and one of the dancers in “Messiah.” “When you’re turning, it just gives you this full feeling.”

During rehearsals, Shearer brought in photos of cathedrals and stained glass windows to inspire the dancers, Perry said.

“I like to stand up there and think that I’m an old roman cathedral and that I’m 10 million feet tall,” she said, “and I feel important.”

In “Broken Voices,” choreographed by Barbara Verlezza, 13 dancers perform to the song “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen.

“It’s really exciting,” said Nicole Cutone, a senior dance performance major. “(Barbara) literally lets us put our own voice and our own signature on anything.”

In another piece, “Equestrian Painting,” the dancers portray thoroughbred racehorses that symbolize dancers whose careers have ended due to injury.

“To dance the piece is to push through those injuries,” Logan said, “and say that there is more than what the world calls us to do.”

Providing concerts such as Dance ’08 is important for the dance students, Shearer said.

“If we only taught classes in the studio and never performed, there would be no point to this major,” she said. “It’s not about us, it’s about trying to convey something to the audience.”

During the greeting for concert, Shearer addresses the audience with questions to consider while watching the performance.

This helps the audience to have a better understanding of the concert and a more enjoyable experience, Shearer said.

“A lot of times, people will think that when they come to this concert they are going to see ‘Dancing with the Stars,'” she said, “and that’s not what we do.”

During the show, there will be a master of ceremonies who will explain the meanings behind each piece.

“It’s so that the audience is a little bit more comfortable with (the concert),” Shearer said. “You don’t have to like every piece, but I think everybody will like something.”

The dancers also enjoy performing in the concert, Perry said.

“I’m so excited,” she said. “We work so hard to get to this point, and this is the best part.”

Contact College of the Arts reporter Lauren Crist at [email protected].