Meet the choreographers: Dance Workshop 2014

Dance Workshop, a semiannual student-run dance show, is kicking off its first show of the school year on December 4, with two more shows on December 5 and 6.  Naturally, with student-choreographed pieces, this is bound to be an event full of a variety of music and dance styles. Because of the great deal of excitement surrounding this event, I went to the choreographers to get a glimpse as to what we can expect to see at the show.

Kyra Wolf

How long have you been choreographing?

I started in high school.

What type of piece is this in terms of style, genre, and/or music?

This is a light-hearted piece about children playing. The piece sort of weaves between dance and physical comedy. The music is Suite for Toy Piano by John Cage.

What inspired you to do this personally and what inspiration did you use in creating dance moves for the piece?

I was inspired by my summer job, working at a farm camp for three- to five-year-old kids. Children are really funny and quirky. They have a novel view on the world, but at the same time they have their own social dynamics and little dramas. And they’re very unfiltered in the way that they express themselves. I found myself writing down funny quotations over the course of the summer. My favorite is from an adorable little boy with Harry Potter glasses and alligator mud boots: “I think when I popped out of my mommy’s belly, I ripped her t-shirt.” From this job, I started thinking about child’s play and how as adults we tend to get stuck in patterns of thought and action. We often miss out on the playfulness, which is essential to creativity and innovation. This piece sort of grew as an exploration of play.

Grace Geracioti

How long have you been choreographing?

All PostsSince I was nine. My first dance was a solo where I pretty much skipped in a circle the whole time to ‘Take Five’ by Dave Brubeck because my teacher didn’t let us choose songs with words….and I’ve choreographed a dance almost every year since!

What type of piece is this in terms of style, genre, and/or music?

Modern/contemporary/whatever, and the music is by James Blake, so it’s pretty intense (like the dance) but also really catchy.

What inspired you to do this personally, and what inspiration did you use in creating dance moves for the piece?

I got the inspiration for the movement in my dance from social interactions and eye contact (or lack thereof) in everyday life (think of passing someone in Rastall and you try to say hi but they don’t, etc.). Pretty much I thought of these unspoken interactions as different little dances with the eyes, head, and body.   

Not all of the movement directly reflects that, but the piece as a whole comes from that idea. I told my dancers to think of the person they hooked up with last weekend front row in the audience if that gives you a sense of the real, intimate, and awkward space I wanted to create. I also drew inspiration for movement from classes I’ve taken, improvising, pieces I’ve seen that I liked and anything that comes into my head at the right time.

Flora Liu

How long have you been choreographing?

I started choreographing in around senior year of high school. But it wasn’t until college that I started choreographing on a bigger scale. My first piece in dance workshop was “Let it Snow,” with 30 people with various dance backgrounds. The piece was inspired by the Snowflake scene from the Hard Nut.

What type of piece is this in terms of style, genre, and/or music?

I would say modern, but I don’t know how well that describes anything. The first part of the piece is very industrial, focused, and alienating. There is a transition that shifts the piece to a softer and warmer atmosphere.

What inspired you to do this personally and what inspiration did you use in creating dance moves for the piece?

For this piece, I have this vivid image of business people walking on the street of New York City at 7:45 in the morning. People are dressed alike in their business suits or business casual, walking at the same pace all trying to get to work. The atmosphere is tense and has a sense of strangers. Everyone has their individual goals and has some sort of tunnel vision. But what interested me was that if you look close enough, you’d see that everyone is different, and everyone has an individual story to tell.

I am interested in knowing and connecting with people. How do we see more than just on the surface? I think when we live our busy lives, we tend to forget the nitty gritty that makes a person special. Along with the images of busy New York streets in mind, I decided I wanted to create a piece that demonstrates the contrast of group verses individuals in seven minutes.

Rachel Gibbs

How long have you been choreographing?

I’ve been choreographing for about three years.

What type of piece is this in terms of style, genre, and/or music?

This is a contemporary dance piece. I’m not sure if it fits into a more specific category. It combines highly technical, pedestrian, and animalistic movement with parts inspired by Gaga and Horton techniques. The sound was created by Siri Undlin during Eiko Otake’s course, Naked & Delicious: The State of Being in 2012.

What inspired you to do this personally and what inspiration did you use in creating dance moves for the piece?

Gaga is a vocabulary of dance invented by Ohad Naharin of the Batsheva dance company in Israel where I learned some very valuable choreographing techniques. I wanted to accentuate each dancer’s individuality with movement that was both beautiful and graceful, yet visceral and raw. Choreography came after choosing Siri’s “Body Soundscape.” I then drew inspiration from each of the dancers, who were patient in rehearsals and not afraid to play around with ideas.

What can students expect to see from your piece during Dance Workshop?

I hope the audience feels uncomfortable yet intrigued with how the piece builds slowly. By the end, I hope that they feel as if they are just waking up, as if they have been transported through space and time and the whole experience was just a dream.

Amairani Alamillo

How long have you been choreographing?

I grew up dancing to Spanish music, and I’ve choreographed small dance pieces for quinceañeras in the past. However, this was the first time that I choreographed for Dance Workshop.

What type of piece is this in terms of style, genre, music?

Hanna, Jesús, and I choreographed a hybrid piece that includes salsa and hip-hop. Although our piece is choreographed, it is less technical than other Dance Workshop pieces.

What inspired you to do this personally and what inspiration did you use in creating dance moves for the piece?

Diversity has been such a big topic across campus and we wanted to incorporate that in Dance Workshop. I’ve attended Dance Workshop as a performer and an audience member and I wanted to show that dance goes beyond the modern/contemporary genres that are typically shown. We decided to have a piece with salsa and hip-hop because those are the genres we (Hanna, Jesús, and I) grew up dancing to. Beyond bringing diversity to the music and dance genres, we also wanted our piece to include different types of people. We have thirty dancers in our piece that range from no or little dance experience to people that have been dancing their entire lives.

Julia Napolitano

How long have you been choreographing?

I have been a dancer for 18 years, and a choreographer for six years. However, this is my first time choreographing for CC Dance Workshop, so that has been a fun new experience.

What type of piece is this in terms of style, genre, music?

Our piece screams funk. Funk music, dancing, and lighting!

What inspired you to do this personally and what inspiration did you use in creating dance moves for the piece?

I am choreographing a piece with Nicole Pey called And That’s The Funk. Nicole brought a video of Bootsy Collins giving a “Basic Funk Formula.” We both fell in love with it, and it is the inspiration for this piece. The piece actually starts with the soundtrack to this video, featuring Kyle Warner as Bootsy. I personally consider Kyle to be an inspiration in his freedom of movement and his confidence to put himself way out there at the auditions. Nicole and I have both been inspired by watching videos of funk soul trains, as well. We have incorporated many of these moves into the piece.

Eboni Statham

Eboni Statham

Eboni Statham

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