Kent State dance company starts semester on the mat

Elizabeth Myers

Tommy Parlon, a guest choreographer for Kent State dance students, teaches the Modern III class on Friday. Elizabeth Myers | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: Ron Soltys

During the first week of class, it would be a hard challenge to find any student studying for his or her end-of-the-year finals. However, in the M.A.C. Annex, 10 students in the dance department recently spent almost 20 hours learning and cramming for their biggest final.

Those students are a part of Kent Dance Ensemble, Kent State’s own semi-professional dance company, and last week guest choreographer Tommy Parlon taught them a seven-minute dance in four rehearsals over four days.

Parlon is a former Kent State dance professor (1998-2002) who now teaches at Anne Arundel Community College near Washington D.C., as well as running his own studio, Tommy Parlon Dance Company. When Parlon arrived in Kent on Wednesday, the group went straight to work with its first rehearsal that night. Over the next two days, he took over some of the upper division dance classes, teaching Ballet III, Jazz III and Modern III.

Nicole Cutone, junior dance performance major and member of KDE, took all the classes Parlon taught.

“It was an excellent change of everyday life,” Cutone said. Cutone and a few other KDE dancers, waiting for Friday afternoon’s rehearsal to start, agreed Parlon’s style of dance was much different than what they are taught by the teachers they’ve had for years.

“He is much more acrobatic and athletic. There is a lot of floor work,” Cutone said.

The almost seven-minute dance is a modern piece set to music by The Starseeds, an ambient band from California. Parlon said his dance is a mixture of soft, gestural movements combined with athletic partnering.

“My work is deceptive,” Parlon said to the dancers during Friday’s rehearsal. “All of the work in and out of the floor is exhausting.”

At rehearsal, Parlon and Karpanty sat to the side of the practice studio, taking notes and discussing corrections, while the dancers ran through the piece several times. After each run-through, Parlon would go over specific parts that needed improvement.

Since Parlon only spent four days on campus, and the KDE concert doesn’t open until April 4, Karpanty will take over directing rehearsals in the coming months.

Contact Elizabeth Myers at [email protected].