This past Saturday, 19 senior dance majors performed their last dance at Slippery Rock University together: A piece titled “The Leaving.”
“Senior Synthesis is a class taken in the last semester of the Dance Major at SRU. Essentially the class is a combination of everything we have learned over our time with the Dance Department,” Aly Van Almsick, a dance and secondary education English major at Slippery Rock in her last semester, explained.
“Each person in the class chooses a research topic and focuses on that for the semester. The research results in a 10-15 page paper as well as some form of a creative project. In addition to the research, we work on professional development aspects for after graduation: creating resumes, tips for auditioning at dance companies, graduate school applications, everything,” Van Almsick said.
Van Almsick based her project on implementing dance lessons into high school classrooms. The senior has been dancing since she was three and did not want that part of her life to end after high school, even though she had suffered through an injury during her first semester at college.
“I knew I had made the right decision, and I still love the atmosphere in the department and how supportive we all are of each other,” Van Almsick said.
This past Saturday, the group of 19 seniors had their last official performance with the department.
“It was a day full of mixed emotions. It was the first time the 19 seniors had danced together since freshmen year. The feeling of all 19 of us dancing on stage was very surreal because this is the end and the piece we did was called ‘The Leaving,’” Van Almsick shared.
“The Leaving” was choreographed by the Chair of the Dance Department at the University of Colorado-Boulder, Erika Randall. Based on the idea of why people leave, the seniors explored within themselves why they are leaving school and why they left home.
“It was sad to dance together for the last time, but also extremely rewarding because after four hard years, this was the moment we have all been waiting for,” Van Almsick said.
Katharine Vrankin, a fellow dance major with a BFA in Performance and Choreography did her project by choreographing and performing a solo titled “Putting on the Breaks.”
“It felt great to finally perform my solo piece, ‘Putting on the Breaks,’ on Saturday. Flying Low Technique and Release Technique are two concepts that I knew would challenge me as a dancer and as a choreographer. When working on the piece, I went through many frustrating and exhausting hours of conditioning my body to perform the techniques properly and creating new, unique movements that were true to my research,” Vrankin shared.
Vrankin has been dancing since she was three.
“I think since my first day of dance classes I knew that I wanted to pursue dance as my career,” Vrankin said.
The seniors will be presenting their projects during finals week, on May 8 from 1-3 p.m. in the Field House Dance Studio, and all are welcome to attend.