Fourteen original dance numbers, 13 of them choreographed by students, are on tap at Catawba College's Danceworks, slated at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 22, and Wednesday, April 23. Admission is free to this annual event which has been offered for over 20 years at the institution.
Catawba Dance Ensemble members include Jacquelyn Allen of Winston-Salem; Nicole Bowles of Monroe; Nicole Durant of Fairview; Ashleigh Herndon of Conway, S.C.; Vanessa Malanga of Rutherfordton; Amber McLeerey of Hendersonville; Mary Alice Nichols of Conyers, Ga.; Candace Neal of Waxhaw; Lydia Price of Boynton Beach, Fla.; Minnie Scronce of Newton; Brianna Smith of Austin, Texas; Caitlin Springs of Santa Clara, Calif.; Mara Stewart of Hurricane, W.Va.; Jessica Taige of Wauwatosa, Wis.; Eleanor Withrow of Abingdon, Md.; Felicia Youngblood of Rural Hall; Sam Brooks of Seaford, Va.; Justin Duncan of Raeford; Jared Kenish of Glassboro, N.J.; Sonny Kong of Matthews; Michael Lasris of Seaford, Va.; and Sheldon Rogers of Waxhaw. Guest dancers performing during Danceworks include Daniel Scott Hines of Yorktown, Va.; Sarah Reeves of Pilot Mountain; Sarah Selman of Rome, Ga.; Timothy Scott Thomas of Charlotte; Zack Lynch of Selbyville, Del.; and Dr. Beth Homan, assistant professor of theatre arts at Catawba College.
Choreographers and descriptions of their dance numbers follow:
Candace Neal: "Robo Busy" is a dance aimed at encapsulating the "too busy to notice the things that matter most" nature of society. The dance is a somewhat episodic piece in which the entire group except for two (at a time), go through a series of highly robotic, uniform movements. The two uninvolved individuals display contrasting fluidity to this Stepford-wife-like world around them. The dance is meant to hone in on our busy lives and taking those moments to notice the people and things which are important to us. The dance involves lots of chairs and canon, military behavior.
Ashleigh Herndon: This dance, set to Aerosmith's "Janie's Got a Gun," is a jazzy production number with a lot going on. It is not just about spousal abuse, but also about how relationships involve give and take and how each person is responsible for the success and or failure of a relationship. There is a lot of pulling apart and coming together to symbolize that abuse is not one-sided.
Sheldon Rogers: "Category 5" is a dance set to Mute Math's "Control. It centers on the idea of weather and the development of a storm. Each group of dancers represents one respective part of the storm. These parts are wind, rain, and lightning. The music is upbeat and electronic in nature, while the dance style is modern/lyrical fusion.
Jared Kenish and Nicole Durant: "Open Arms" is a lyrical contemporary dance set to the song, "Arrival," by Pale 3 and featuring Beth Hirsh. It is a somewhat narrative piece about greed. Symbolically, it revolves around being at the highest point in life (thinking that you have your life together) and then realizing you could get knocked down just as quickly as you got there. The lead dancer, Amber, is struggling with her life -- who her true friends are and the greedy person she has become. She dies and in death, still finds herself struggling to rid herself of the images of greed from her life. In the end, she comes to terms with herself and death. Only then is she truly welcomed by the spirits in Heaven with open arms.
Brianna Smith: "Hope Does Not Disappoint Us" utilizes to two songs by Derek Webb, "Savior on Capital Hill" and "This Too Shall Be Made Right." The dance evolves around the theme of highs and lows and lighting will be used to accentuate this theme. The dance toys with the idea of humanity and worldliness as a struggle of gravity versus hope. The dancers on the barres will be maintaining the sort of flexed/tribal/raw/human feel while trying to push up against gravity. The dancers in the beginning will be hiding their human nature behind the artifice of technique, with ballet used specifically as the medium through which this will be accomplished. Movements in the first half of the dance are very crisp. The second part of the dance incorporates different prayers being spoken or recited by the dancers.
Minnie Scronce: "Change" is a ballet piece set to an orchestra piece of music which involves coupling and lifting among the dancers. It is a dramatic piece with the dancers wearing colorful costumes. The concept involves showing how different people change a life without the affected person having much to say about it.
Michael Lasris: "Risk and dabdA" is a lyric modern dance set to "Falling Slowly" from the Once soundtrack and "Samson" by Regina Spektor. It follows the story of a dying man who rediscovers life with some nudging from his wife. It is when the dying man reaches beyond his limits that he loses his battle and dies. The wife, knowing that she is to blame for her husband's death, goes through the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) before coming to terms with her loss.
Jessica Taige: "Remember" is dance set to "Tage wie Dieser." It begins with four couples on stage. As the dance progresses the women separate from their male partners and dance apart to different areas of the stage. One dancing couple of the four becomes the focus of the piece.
Nicole Bowles: This dance, which tells the story of an oppressed and enslaved group of women under an evil dictator, is set to "Apres Moi" by Regina Spektor. The women are tied together at the ankle and are blindfolded. In an act of bravery, one woman rises from the ground and slaps the dictator across the face. The dictator begins to strangle the women, but then has a better idea; he takes the woman's daughter and begins to torture her while her mother watches. Despite the mother's begging, the dictator refuses to release the daughter and instead drags her offstage. In a fit of rage, the mother rips the blindfolds off her fellow slaves and rallies them as they rip apart their ankle restraints. After a "liberation" dance, the women drag the dictator on stage and string him up using their ankle-tethers.
Eleanor Withrow: Set to "For Blue Skies" by Stray's Don't Sleep and "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein, the theme of this dance is the idea of being a giver. It involves someone who is always being taken advantage of losing themselves because they have given too much to others and not received anything in return.
Sam Brooks: This contemporary/lyrical dance entitled "Fell, Falling, Fall?" is set to "We Might Fall" by Ryan Star. It explores human relationships that are in three stages: "We might fall but who cares?" "Oh God, We're Falling" and "We Fell." The dance is very angular in nature with strong lines, with the dancers sometimes dancing in silhouette and at other times moving in and out of pools of light. It is a dance about struggling, uncertainty, finding answers, and trying to make a human connection, but learning in the end that this is not always a possibility.
Sonny Kong and Justin Johnson: Set to "Earth Intruders" by Bjork, this piece features 11 dancers, nine females and two males. It is intended to be some sort of bizarre twist on a huge, elaborate production number. The basic concept is that there are two males who are competing to control the females and manipulate them for their own good. The females start off with their own sense of identity as they enter the stage, however, the males are able to brainwash them using this sort of electroshock collar-induced brainwashing technique. In the first half of the dance, the females dance along sort of a grid-like pattern as if they're trapped in an electric field, like insects squirming to get out of a bug zapper! During the final half of the dance the struggles of the females to break free of the males' control is chronicled with two lead females "battling" the two males. The females revel in their victory as the men break down and collapse, no longer useful to society.
Professor Missy Barnes: "Out of Chaos" is a modern dance piece for three dancers set to untitled music composed by Chris Clowers. It expresses the chaos and pressure that exists in contemporary society. The progression of movement is from self-contained to faster and more frantic, to heavier and weighed down, and finally to light and free.