This past weekend, Feb. 3 to Feb. 5, dancers participated in the annual student choreography concert featuring original choreography from Alma students.
“Last winter semester, the co-director, Athelia Gray (’23), and I began to set the concert up by creating an auditionprocess–forms that both dancers and choreographers fill out–communicating with faculty advisors and creating rehearsal schedules,” said Allison Zardus (’23), one of the student directors and choreographers.
For this concert, Zardus changed the way she usually choreographs pieces. “I…decided to bring my education into my piece by representing a historical time in history and creating a storyline,” said Zardus.
In the program for Zardus’ piece, her dance, “Night of Broken Glass,” is described as “[resembling] the fears that individuals went through during the Holocaust… After all the years of torture and suffering, this moment in history should never be forgotten and this piece is here to remind everyone of that moment,” said Zardus.
Pieces like “Chronophobia” and “Eulogy For A Monarch” had a similar serious tone, while other pieces like “East Bizarre Ave,” “The Audition,” and “R” made the audience laugh out loud due to their clever choreography.
All 21 student choreographers decided what went into their pieces, but all of them received guidance along the way.
“If students [were] stuck, we usually [talked] about their choreographic options from several perspectives: musical, compositional, thematic and movement vocabulary,” said Ben Munisteri, Director of Dance.
“Faculty do not dictate what student dance artists should do; we converse about what they want to make or say, and then we give multiple suggestions. Students can choose to take the suggestions or not,” said Munisteri.
For some of the younger Alma College dancers, performing a peer’s choreography has been a unique experience. “I ha ve never had someone close to my age choreograph a dance and be able to perform it for a show, so this is something so cool to be a part of…I think this is a great opportunity for a new part of my dance career,” said Nicole Yacks (‘26).
For Yacks, a first- year, Alma College’s dance program has been very welcoming. “I absolutely love it. I am pushed to be the best I can possibly be and have had the best time working on this stuff… The people are so nice and make sure you feel a part of everything,” said Yacks.
As a choreographer, the experience for Zardus w as amazing as well. “Watching others dance my choreography gives me a sense of fulfillment as well as a sense of [awe] for seeing what I have created and how each dancer interprets the movement into their own,” said Zardus.
One can tell just by watching each piece that all the dancers are pushed to be their absolute best and that they are given support in whatever it is they w ant to do.
“I love having discussions with students about their choreographic choices; the context and traditions they are either following or choosing to reject; how best to effect their ideas into aesthetic movement; and how to help them problem-solve. I love watching their dance evolve over the months as they dig deeper, explore broadly and take artistic risks,” said Munisteri.
For the dancers, performing in front of an audience is the culmination of all their hard work. You can tell that they all really enjoy what they do as, during their final bow, they cheered each other on, laughed and, in general, looked like they were having a good time.
If you missed this student choreography concert, there are sure to be many more amazing performances in the future.