Monday, February 29, 2016

Freshman Year Insight!

Meet Hunter Hoffman!

Hunter is a freshman with the dance department all the way from sunny Miami, Florida. Here, he offers some insight into his freshman year!

What have been the highlights of your year so far?

Being in a class of great people. I love waking up every morning and knowing that I'll soon be in class dancing with some of my best friends. Also, being able to perform in Match Girl this previous semester has been a highlight. 

What is the most important thing that you've learned?

You don't need to be perfect when you come to college. College is a time for you to grow and learn from your mistakes. All you need is hard work and ambition and you will have a recipe for success.

What are some your favorite memories with the dance department?

Preparing for the performance of Match Girl last semester and being backstage with all the anticipation stands out as one of my key memories in my first year with the dance department. I also look forward to the Thursday BFA ballet class because it's just another opportunity where I can focus in class with the support of the teachers and other dancers. 

What advice would you give incoming freshman?

Make sure to work hard and commit yourself every day and eventually everything else will come through for you. Be patient with yourself because in dance you have to constantly pick yourself back up. Also, appreciate the present and fall in love with ballet because it is your life now and these are years you won't get back. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Flashback to Jumping into J-Term!

                  Cold, snowy, and dark- On the outside, J-term may not seem like the most lively or exciting time of the year. However, as you venture into the DanceSpace, you’ll discover otherwise. The three weeks were filled with hours upon hours of dancing. Every day, the dancers started with a warm up and a two hour ballet class, followed with a seminar and lecture in the afternoon, and finally finished with a couple hours of rehearsal to complete the day. The five hours spent in the studio each day strengthened the dancers and increased their level of technique and artistry.
                  J-term offered amazing opportunities for the dancers to familiarize themselves with different dance styles. These styles included Balanchine’s Serenade, Bournonville’s Napoli, and unique student choreographed pieces. The variety of styles helped push the dancers to their boundaries and explore new directions of movement. 
                  J-Term also hosted Hannah Baumgarten as a guest artist from DanceNOW! Miami. She taught many masterclasses as well as choreographed a new piece where she pushed dancers to move in new ways. Dominic Fortunato said he “was pushed hard, but completely inspired by the entire experience”. After just one class with her, improvement and change grew apparent in each of the dancers.

At the end of the three weeks, the dancers gave a performance to showcase the different dances they had been working on. Anne St. John, a student of dance appreciation, “thought it was really interesting and fun to see students step out of their element in different dance styles and see each of them put their own personality into it”. It was so exciting to see each of the dancer’s reveal a growing strength and dedication that developed over the three weeks of J-Term!

Monday, February 22, 2016

The danceSpace in the Spring

Following the last-ever J Term Winter Dance Experience, our dancers started regular classes for the Spring Semester. Diego Salterini taught a day of master classes the Monday after auditioning students for Joffrey Ballet School’s Summer Intensive. He had multiple notes and positive feedback for our dancers during the class and everyone loved having the opportunity to work with yet another experienced teacher.

photography by Mark Santillano

The dancers are focusing much of their energy on preparing for Beyond Words V, March 18-20. This mixed program highlights Mercyhurst Ballet Theatre and SoMar Dance Works in presentations that will make you laugh and cry and even take your breath away. To raise awareness of violence against women, the March 19 gala performance will include a reception and silent auction to raise funds for SafeNet and the Jenni-Lyn Watson Memorial Scholarship Fund. Following the Friday and Saturday evening performance, meet and talk with the dancers and choreographers at the "Talk Back" session.

Our students have also begun rehearsals for the annual production of Raw Edges. Now in its 18th year, Raw Edges is a Mercyhurst dance tradition highlighting the work of student and guest choreographers.  11 student choreographers will be debuting new works for Raw Edges, May 6-8. The pieces will feature more than 50 dancers over the course of the 4 shows. The student choreographers for this year’s Raw Edges performance held auditions the first week of Spring Term.

photography by Mark Santillano

In other news, other groups of students will be travelling to the annual American College Dance Association March 5-8 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. There will also be a group of students going to Project Dance in New York City April 21-24. It is always encouraging to see our dancers outside of the dance space performing and participating in even more learning opportunities.

Speaking of dancing outside of the dance space, during the spring semester several of our Juniors and Sophomores will be studying in Dungarven Ireland as a part of Mercyhurst’s study abroad program. The dancers have excitedly posted numerous pictures of the beautiful landscape of Ireland as well as a video of the 360 degree view of the dance studio they will be practicing in over the course of the semester:

Good luck and stay warm to everyone on their journeys and auditions!