The end of the semester is approaching and VCU’s department of Dance and Choreography seniors are preparing for their senior project dance concert, titled “Ergo Sum.”
The two-part showcase, set to premiere at the Grace Street Theater, is a melange of themes, genres of dance and stories told through the choreography of the 12 participating dancers.
“Ergo Sum” is divided into two programs, the first program will be performed on Nov. 20 and 22, and the second program takes place on Nov. 21 and 23. The entire program was organized by the seniors participating in the show, which consists of half of the VCU Dance senior class.
Emily Todd, one of choreographers, said each performer drew inspiration from a variety of subjects, often using their own life experiences. Her dance, “Attractive Nor Particularly Otherwise,” was inspired by a quote by the same name from “The Ice Palace,” a short story written by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
“This past summer, I began to experiment with objects and what sort of memories each object holds. For example: How many people have sat on a park bench? What has happened on that park bench? Arguments? Homelessness? Writing? Love? What kind of emotions do ordinary objects hold?” Todd said. “It was this particular idea that inspired me to use furniture to help tell the stories of each performer with my piece.”
Todd’s piece aims to portray the social change women strove for during the 1920s. The piece has six dancers who examine Fitzgerald’s conflicting relationships through powerful movement, in which four women expose the emotional turmoil underneath a seemingly perfect facade.
“I believe as artists it is our job and duty to educate the public on those things that cannot necessarily be put into words,” Todd said. “Many artists do this by sharing their own personal experience or an experience they have witnessed.”
Todd said she hopes her performance will have an impact on the audience even after they leave the theater.
“I hope that as choreographers we have educated the audience through those experiences and allowed them to walk out of the theater feeling moved or at least questioning their own sense of self in relation to their surroundings and the people in their lives,” Todd said.
Shawna Lee, another senior choreographer and the marketing chairperson for the dance project, said the promotion and marketing of the show has been the most difficult part.
“VCU Dance is not as close to campus as other departments; many students do not know that we put on performances,” Lee said. “This makes marketing difficult for us. We do have people who post posters in different places, but there is not enough that are seen on the VCU campus.”
Lee’s piece, “Intolerable Isolation,” deals with personal isolation. The choreography uses modern dance to simulate the feeling of solitude, which Lee said is a subject the audience will be able to relate to in one way or another.
“As an adolescent, I have seen people become isolated from groups or picked on for various reasons,” Lee said. “Through my choreography, I will show how simply being isolated can become a big deal for one person.”
Lee said she hopes her performance will help the audience enhance their knowledge of dance.
“I want people to know that dance is universal and the possibilities are endless. I would also like the audience to be satisfied and entertained by the performance,” she said. “The dance department continuously puts on performances and it would be great for people to continue to come out and support us.”