While most students were taking a few deep breaths before hunkering down for the last month of classes, senior dance students were already hard at work putting their finishing touches on their senior projects. At this past weekend’s Senior Dance Concert, five seniors brought their ideas to life in intricately prepared routines.
The Dance Concert was titled “Breaking Code,” and that theme was incorporated into all dances to showcase the importance of individuality and freedom amongst conformity and complacency. Like any piece of art, a lack of explanation leaves the audience to their own interpretation, creating an opportunity to assign meaning of what is played out in front of them.
In Chelsea Nicole Green’s “Into The Water,” dancers were blindfolded, their partners gracefully pushing, pulling and guiding them across the stage, presumably to the path they wanted them to go, until they could finally move with their own with clear vision.
Jeffrey Mensah’s “Lobotomy” was a hauntingly powerful piece filled with a story of painstaking and pain-inducing repetition, one dancer struggling to resist and break free from that of which the other dancers were trapped by. Katie Creed’s routine, “The Color Mango,” started out with a solo dancer — one who was defeated by the desire to be like everyone else — that eventually lead a group and showed them the strength and beauty of individuality that was within her all along.
Ryan Bailey’s “Take Leave or Hold On” brought out the image of being an intricate system, each piece holding power, and although breaking at times and depending on outside influences, holding on for the sake of that system. Raven Hardnett’s “Through It All” was a routine of individual pieces making up one system as well, occasionally “breaking code” and falling out of line, but falling together beautifully as a whole back into the synchronicity that it needed to work.
Two of the senior choreographers, Mensah and Hardnett, were able to give insight into the process that goes into creating routines such as these and provide advice to upcoming seniors. According to them, planning began in February when the dancers first held their auditions and continued on throughout the semester as the seniors worked collaboratively with students and staff to perfect the routine, costumes, lighting and music. The dancers themselves ranged from freshmen to seniors, each bringing their own style and passion to the routines.
After bringing everything they have learned over their years of classes at UMBC together into one event and planning process, it all comes down to self-awareness for the senior choreographers. Hardnett stated an important point about taking on the role of the choreographer and adding personal meaning to a large-scale project: “Know what is important to you and know yourself as an artist and what represents you the way that you want to be represented.”
“For this show in particular,” Hardnett said, “it really allowed me to see who I am as a person and the things that I want to represent on stage. Having that sense of self and that confidence in yourself definitely helps me for the future and what I want to do next.”
For underclassmen who are looking forward to their own Senior Dance Concerts, Mensah thoughtfully advised to “pace yourself, take it day by day, stay positive and think of everything that you have done instead of making a checklist of the things that you need to do,” as a way to truly enjoy each step of the experience.
Editor’s Note: Descriptions of dance routines are interpretations by the author.