‘Beyond words’

Jenna Gerling

‘Dance 2006’ offers students new perspective on modern dance


Some Kent State dancers say that, for certain people, modern dance can be a scary thing; but in today’s performance of Dance 2006: Beyond Words, dance majors worked with faculty to expose students to the different styles of this expressive art form.

“Modern dance is something that people aren’t exactly used to seeing. It’s very contemporary, and it’s very artistic,” said Kelly Sammon, senior dance performance major. “But I think a lot of people can take what they want from it — that’s the point of it . (it’s) how you are affected by the concert. It brings out emotions.”

Sammon said she performed in two pieces in Dance 2004 and three pieces in Dance 2005. This year, she will be performing in “The Principle of Movements,” choreographed by assistant professor Melanie George.

“The (piece) I’m in is about touch and relationships,” Sammon said. “It’s how one can be receptive to different touches, like how I touch my friend, or how I touch my boyfriend. You have to connect with the audience by standing still and performing, yet keeping it pedestrian at the same time.”

These performances rely heavily on the relationship between faculty and students, as they are always communicating to one another about different movements and challenging ideas.

Andrea Shearer, associate professor and artistic director for Dance 2006, said the faculty choreographed, designed and did the research for the performance.

“Sometimes we have pieces where the faculty members perform, but not this year — all of the performers are students,” Shearer said.

“It’s a very academic setting, so you look up to your professor as them being the authoritative one, but when you see them in your shoes also, it’s interesting to see how they still get nervous backstage or how they still mess up choreography,” Sammon said. “So it’s kind of like you have that professional relationship, yet at the same time you have that relationship where you’re on the same level.”

Shearer said students benefit from the performance in several ways.

“(Students) learn a lot about how to choreograph by working with faculty members … because everyone has a different choreographic process,” Shearer said. “They also learn how to conduct themselves in rehearsals; both as a dancer … but also when they then start to work with other students in their choreography. There are a lot of things they learn through working with other people.”

Sammon said working with faculty members and other students prepares dancers for the real world.

“It’s brutal; we have our classes that we have to be there for, on top of our LERs, and when we’re done with our class, we’re headed over to the theatre late at night . but it’s definitely worth it. When you get on stage and the lights come on, you see different faces, it’s definitely worth all the blood, guts and tears,” she said.

Shearer said besides the dance performance majors, the audience will also be able to learn from Dance 2006.

“It gives (students) an artistic experience, which some have had a lot of exposure to the various arts and some have not. For a lot of people, this is their first look at modern dance,” she said.

“It can take you on many different kinds of journeys, whether they’re memories or whether they’re things to think about for the future. I think that is important — to learn what they like and what they don’t like very much, but to be open to the experience.”

Contact performing arts reporter Jenna Gerling at [email protected].


Shearer said this year’s theme features eight dances that are widely varied, and because of this, there will be something that everybody will like.

• Associate professor Kimberly Karpanty choreographs two dances, one to the ’70s rock song “Love Hurts” by Nazareth and one jazz dance to “Birdland Suite” by Weather Report.

• Part-time faculty member Erin Smith’s “Train” will be choreographed to contemporary rock music by local band Jaded Era.

• Smith’s “Spanish Guitar” is choreographed to Latin guitarist Oscar Lopez, which incorporates group


• Artist-in-residence Joan Meggitt’s “The Secret House” will be performed on the themes one faces in life.

• Assistant professor Barbara Allegra Verlezza’s piece “Lunar Leap” incorporates large Pilates balls to represent the sun, the moon and nature.

• “For Room Suite,” choreographed by assistant professor of theatre Eric van Baars, focuses on the different perceptions of four dancers.

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a press release.