STUDENT DANCE DESIGNS 


BY MARIAN GO 
SPECIAL TO THE GUARDSMAN


Rachel McCray (top) and Adele Thurston (bottom) rehearsing Bianca Brzezinski's choreography.
TSE-SHIN PING / GUARDSMAN

Step into the North Gym Dance Studio early on any Tuesday and Thursday morning and you’re likely to see groups of students diligently rehearsing long before the start of class.
Their routines do not seem to fall into any particular style, but even an untrained eye could identify morsels of jazz, ballet and hip-hop presented in compelling ways that the visitor is drawn to stay around to sample more.
Welcome to PE 3 – Dance Composition – where students explore the form, content and design of dance through the artistic process of weekly studies that culminate in a semester- ending performance.
Under the guidance of the instructor Luana, the class has been exploring the use of elements such as time, space, energy, shapes, texture, dynamics, rhythm and phrasing in weekly assignments. Now, as students prepare for the final performance on Dec. 6, some will assemble vignettes from past studies to create feature-length pieces of concert caliber.
As soon as the dance studio opens at 8 a.m., groups of three or four dancers assemble to rehearse a fellow student’s composition.
“This class has helped me expand my dance horizons by showing me how to apply structure and concepts to what I am composing,” Jocquese Whitfield said. “It also helps me find ways to give clear instructions to my own students.”
Whitfield, 19, who majors in dance and political science has trained in hip-hop, jazz, ballroom, ballet, modern, voguing and gymnastics. He currently teaches hip-hop to adults and high school students, and plans to study with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York next summer.
Rachel McCray, 21, has taken classes in jazz and tap dancing at City College. She now feels poised to transfer into the dance program at Mills College.
“I’ve learned so much this semester, not just in techniques, but also in being an effective leader and a confident dancer. This course has served as a springboard for me to consider a career in dance,” McCray said.
The younger students look up to Albert Hodge, 30, a 15-year veteran of musical theater who is repeating the class for the fourth time while pursuing two certificates in dance at City College. Throughout the semester, Albert performs his pieces with such polish and professionalism that he serves≠ as a role model for his fellow classmates.
“Luana inspires me to stretch and grow artistically,” said Hodge. “As a choreographer I’m learning how to clearly communicate intent and to develop an aesthetic sense of presentation. As a dancer I’m learning how to reach deep beneath surface layers and cultural forms to bring forth a truth organically.”
Most of the class feels inspired by Luana, who has developed a reputation as a caring and demanding teacher.
“My aim is to teach students to communicate an intrinsic vitality on stage,” said Luana, who has taught at City College for 19 years. “Each student has a brilliance, a genius so to speak. I teach to the ‘internal teacher’ which resides inside the student. I find students understand quicker, retain information longer and can aptly apply the information in a multiplicity of situations.”
Former students have gone on to do great things in the dance world. Gina Thompson, Luana’s former rehearsal assistant, currently leads her own performance company, PURE, as well as teaching classes in movement, cheerleading and dance conditioning. Erin Mei-Ling Stuart of the EmSpace Dance Company first studied modern dance at City College.
It is now 9:10 a.m., time to begin another session of Dance Composition. Luana promptly enters the studio, and the aspiring choreographers line up at the blackboard to post their names and the names of their troupes in the order of performance appearance. As each student boldly steps up to the stage, the audience witnesses a dreamer leaping forth onto the larger world of life.

No comments :

Post a Comment

Please consider donating to our grassroots collective. We are independance Artists. Donations are the greatest nations.

This button takes you to Paypal, where you can make a secure donation using either a debit/credit card or a Paypal account.