Dancers use themed solo dances to convey social issues

Published by adviser, Author: Janelle Wilson - Asst. Campus Life Editor, Date: December 4, 2014

SRU senior dance majors will perform originally choreographed dances for this weekend’s fall concert representing different themes including feminism, discrepancies between physical and mental age and deceased loved ones.

[pullquote align=”left” speaker=”Samm Wesler”]Dance is a vehicle to talk about social issues like that in a universal way that everyone can understand.[/pullquote]

Seventy students will perform in the Dance Fall Concert, and it will be held in Swope Recital Hall Saturday and Sunday at 2 and 5 p.m. Of the 70 performers, 20 will showcase their original choreography, including Samm Wesler, Garret Dunn, and Curtis Hanner.

After reading “The Feminine Mystique” by Betty Frieden, Wesler, 22, said she began to question the portrayal of the “happy ’50s housewife,” and focus on how women of the time period weren’t happy, and were only forced into that role by societal expectation.

Wessler said her post-modern solo dance called “Barefoot in the Kitchen” will challenge gender roles, and explore the frustration felt by women in the ’50s.

“I am a feminist,” Wesler said. “Dance is a vehicle to talk about social issues like that in a universal way that everyone can understand.”

In upcoming concerts, Wesler said she’ll focus more on feminist issues, including the oppressive nature of catcalling.

“I want to make the audience feel as uncomfortable as possible to represent how women feel when they’re cat-called,” Wesler said.

Garret Dunn, 22, choreographed a piece called “When I Was Your Age,” about how when people grow up, they face societal pressures to act a certain way. Unlike the other two dancers, Dunn will use videos to supplement the story he’s trying to tell.

“Just two generations before us, people had a mold to fill,” Dunn said. “Older people expect younger people to act like adults, and young adults don’t know how to adjust to that transition. I think this generation will be the one to break the mold.”

Dunn said that while the video makes for a more visually dynamic piece, a struggle that came with it is that it’s more difficult to convey meaning through dance by competing with the video.

“My solo by itself wouldn’t work without the video,” Dunn said. “It’s a good complement to my dance.”

Curtis Hanner’s, 21, contemporary solo, “A Son’s Tear,” is a dance that he said represents the pain he felt after losing his father at 13, and how boys aren’t supposed to express those emotions. Hanner said that a contemporary style was the best fit for his dance because of how it complemented his experience. Hanner expressed his excitment for his performance in the upcoming dance concert.

“Contemporary isn’t a fixed form of dance,” Hanner said, “just like my personal journey isn’t fixed. I’m still progressing and getting better and better, and it describes what I’m doing and where I’m going.”


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