Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Tis the Season with The Little Match Girl

On December 4th and 5th, the Mercyhurst Dance Department will present ‘Tis the Season with the Little Match Girl. This ballet is a heart-warming story based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale of the same name. It tells the story of a young girl forced to sell matches on a cold winter night, her struggle, and her eventual happy ending. This year, a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales will go to benefit the Regional Food Bank. Additionally, children under 12 years old will be allowed free admission to the performance if they bring a nonperishable food item to donate with them.
            In the show, I will play a doll and an angel. My part as a doll functions as divertissement in the ballet. In a village where the Little Match Girl attempts to sell matches and encounters village vendors, a magician, and a doll maker and his dolls. Working on this part has been very fun for me, I love playing a more lighthearted part in a ballet that has many sad elements. This is the tone of the entire scene in the village; happy and vibrant. It adds a happier element to the ballet, before some of the more somber scenes that follow.
            My other part, as an angel, is a vital role to the ballet. The Little Match Girl, alone and cold, lights her final match to stay warm. As she does, her deceased grandmother and a group of angels appear to take care of the little girl. The angels dance around the Little Match Girl to beautiful music, and knock on the door of a family, who take the little girl in as their own.

            The Little Match Girl is a wonderful, heart-warming winter tale, which the Mercyhurst Dance Department is extremely excited to share. The performance will be a great one for both the audience and dancers!
- Kerry Schroeder

Friday, November 6, 2015

Dance 1-2-3!

This fall, the Mercyhurst Dancers will present Dance 1-2-3, an evening of solos, duets, and trios. The show will contain a diverse range of movement styles, subject matter, and moods. There will be something for everyone as the evening of dances progresses through enchanting classical pas de deux, edgy neoclassical trios, and raw, riveting contemporary solos.
 Some pieces, such as Mercyhurst Returning Professionals Program alumna Rachel James’ “Allegro” have been performed before, while others will be world premieres by Mercyhurst faculty. Still others will be excerpts from 18th century classics restaged by the Mercyhurst Dance Department.
This performance will differ from previous fall concerts in that it will feature a relatively small cast. The minimalist approach in both stage design and casting will allow the audience to focus exclusively on the dancing. The smaller numbers of dancers onstage at one time will give the performance a more intimate, chamber-like atmosphere.
The dancers have been working hard in daily rehearsals since the end of August. Participating performers have had the opportunity to work closely with the dance department faculty and receive personal coaching in technique and style. For the newer works, this means that the dancers get to work directly with the choreographers. This close relationship benefits dancers, choreographers, and audiences by allowing the dancer to stay as close to the choreographer’s intent as possible while also retaining whatever individuality the choreographer allows and encourages.
I spoke with sophomore Ragan Faulkner about her audition and rehearsal experiences for Dance 1-2-3.
Rebecca Voulgarakis: “How did you approach your Dance 1-2-3 audition, and how did you feel it went before you knew you were cast?”
Ragan Faulkner: "'Face and Space.' That's that I say to myself before every performance or audition. So I used my face (emitted emotion) and space (danced big) and I believe that focusing on those two details really help me embody the role or choreography being asked of me. The only person I ever compete with is myself. So leaving the audition, I believed I was better than the dancer I was a year ago. And that fact alone was reward enough. I didn't need to be cast to feel validated in my progress, but I was very excited and honored to be!"
RV: "What has the choreographic/rehearsal process been like?"
RF: "The rehearsals have gone well so far. I am in a trio, so I love the personal connections and friendships that come out of working so closely with just two other people. A sense of teamwork is established."
RV: "What have been your biggest challenges and successes with the choreography?"
RF: "I love the aesthetic of the movement. The piece overall is abstract & the choreographic pallet isn't broad, but there's something about it all that is really cool. It's definitely a work people can decide for themselves what it stands for. After all, it's titled, 'Untitled Three.' My biggest challenge has been trying to count the music of the piece I'm in! The score is very difficult which is frustrating at times, but I also welcome the challenge. It always me to grow and improve as a dancer."
RV: "Why should people come see the show?"
RF: "Everyone should see this show not just for the wonderful and exciting dances, but also to support cancer awareness and research. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that globally, about 8 million people die each year from cancer, but that 1/3 of those deaths could have been prevented. This show is a small piece of that prevention."

Dance 1-2-3 will grace the D’Angelo Performing Arts Center stage on Friday, November 6th at 4:30pm; Saturday, November 7th at 2:00 and 7:30pm; and Sunday, November 8th at 2:00pm.

By: Rebecca Voulgarakis