The Department of Dance’s “We Made This For Us” performance streams live on Friday, featuring three master’s students’ thesis works.
The performance’s title, according to Rebecca Lemme, director and professor, invites students to have a personal connection to the production.
“We made these works to comment on our sociopolitical climate, whether in the dance world or hegemonic society,” Lemme said.
Lemme said that each student performing has a different way of approaching dance and a different way of thinking.
“My process has been about my spiritual growth as a choreographer,” Tashara Gavin-Moorehead said, a fourth-year dance major whose piece “A Return to Spirit” will be shown.
Gavin-Moorehead expressed that her piece is a personal journey of discovery of following the principles of Nguzo Saba, the seven principles that laid the foundation for Kwanza. She said that through the making of the performance, she choose to embody each principle of Nguzo Saba.
For Issa Hourani, a fourth-year dance major, “Dandy/Lions” was inspired by men’s vulnerability.
Hourani said that he wanted to show through his performance that you should be able to have intimacy with other people.
“Men being vulnerable, talking about your emotions, being intimate—not necessarily sexual just being intimate with someone that you trust—that you can express your emotions or what you’re feeling is not really common in our society,” Hourani said. “I wanted to make a piece where it should be normalized.”
Sarah Elizabeth Stanley, a fourth-year dance major, is presenting “Dry Bones Howling.” Stanley said that the coronavirus pandemic made her change how she interacts with the audience, inspiring her to create the piece.
Stanley said that the piece shows “humor in dance” and said it’s almost like a “circus performance.”
“I’m quite proud of the end of the finale scene… it’s a choose your own adventure,” Stanley said.
Stanley said she is also proud of the fact that she was able to write a script and learn how to film and edit, something she said that she didn’t learn previously in the department.
For Gavin-Moorehead, she said she was proud to be able to make a film amid the coronavirus pandemic and to create a method of dance that is unique to her.
Though the production offers students a medium to showcase their work, producing it was difficult, some shared. Budget restrictions, finding rehearsal spaces and working amid the coronavirus pandemic made the experience challenging.
“By acknowledging the vulnerability, by being intimate and by putting your walls down and seeking assistance from other people, there’s actual strength in that,” Hourani said, discussing the message he hopes the audience takes away. “Think how we tell people what to do based on gender. We put them in a certain box, like if you’re a guy you’re not suppose to show this much emotion. Just realize the impact it can have on people.”
Stanley’s goal, she said, is to let the audience know that they can make choices of their own accords and face the consequences of their actions.
Lemme explained that the differences in the pieces showcased help encourage people to see past what they are conditioned to think about when they think of dance and how it’s created.
“The possibility of helping people shift their perspectives is what I look forward to during these performances,” Lemme said.
Visit the Department of Dance’s website for more information about “We Made This For Us.” The event streams live at 6 p.m. on YouTube.