On Nov. 18 the Slippery Rock Dance Department held their final performance in their virtual concert series. The concert was hosted on Youtube with an exclusive link that was received once patrons purchased their $5 ticket.
This performance, titled “Emerging Choreographers,” included pieces from fifteen different student choreographers who were all of either junior or senior status. The week prior, they also hosted their “Fresh Moves” student concert with the same format.
Student choreographers included Reva Adams, Olivia Barner, Naomi Bates, Kari Hoglund, Anna DeRubeis, Kaitlyn Falce, Isabel Farr, Brenna Kloes, Mollie Sweeney, Lauren McBarron, Bethany Joyce, Kelvin Rodriguez, Alanna Rygelski, Riley Smith, and Kaitlin Yankovich. All of these students collaborated as choreographers, dancers, directors, editors and even cinematographers. The students in the Dance Department are clearly a multi-facetted, talented young group of people.
With a fully virtual performance from each student, they had free reign of where they would perform. There were many powerful performances across many areas: the studio, Slippery Rock’s campus, the city of Pittsburgh and some very earthy and open fields. There was no creative hinderance where these artists could go. Costumes were chosen by the students, dances were choreographed by them, while also being filmed and edited by the same creative minds.
Naomi Bates and Kari Hoglund, both senior dance majors, were interviewed over Zoom to ask about their experience with this event. When asked about what they feel the pandemic has done to the arts, they both had very touching responses.
Hoglund had started off the conversation by saying, “It has made it difficult for class. What’s important for dance is community and feeling the energy. It’s definitely pushed us past our boundaries and challenged us as artists.”
Bates continued the conversation by saying, “It has forced us to have more ownership as artists. We have to be more intentional with what we’re doing in a virtual space.”
Commenting on her experience as a senior dancer during a pandemic, Bates continued, “Our senior year is all about investigating and experimenting. Now with the pandemic, we are taking that to a new level as dancers.”
Hoglund took the conversation to an even deeper level.
“Lacking touch in dance [because of the pandemic] has been hard. Human contact is comforting. It’s a form of bonding. I was feeling very nostalgic for that sense of touch. The first time I danced with someone and had contact was very emotional.”
Bates and Hoglund are two very passionate students. Passionate about the arts and about working with each other. The pair are often seen working together on all different sides of this dance project. Bates talked extensively about the impact that Hoglund has had on her creatively, and how well the two work together.
Olivia Barner, another senior in the dance department, had very powerful words about being an artist in the midst of a pandemic.
“Creative outlets are at a low during the pandemic, it feels as if it is impossible to create. I am thankful for the arts, and dance specifically, for being there for me when the world seems to be falling apart around me.”
When asked about her experience being a choreographer, Bates has a similar response to her peers.
“This was really challenging, but I think more than anything this experience has forced other choreographers and myself to push ourselves. This opened up a whole new realm of possibilities.”
Despite the learning curve, Bates was proud of the work her and her peers worked so diligently to create.
Whether it be solo performances, duets, or large group pieces, these students came together during a time where it is so hard to connect, and created the beautiful pieces of art they did. They persevered through the virtual challenges to produce something to really be proud of.
The Slippery Rock Dance Department creates more than just wonderful dancers. They lend a hand to creating very creative, sensitive and strong-willed minds and people.