Monday, April 11, 2016

A Behind the Scenes Take on Raw Edges

This week we interviewed Sophia Andreyev. Sophia is a senior working on her second piece for Raw Edges. Raw Edges is our next show on May 6-8. 

What is the overall idea/ concept behind your piece?
I’m choreographing as part of my capstone project which is on multimedia performance. I wanted to find a concept that would support this concept well. I decided to create a piece about two people who are at the end of a relationship, who are struggling to leave and are looking back on the beginning. In addition to the live dancers there will be a projected video of the same dancers, which will serve as a window into their memories.

What inspired your idea for this piece?
As a said before, I was looking for something where I could utilize several different ways of story telling to create the piece. I also have a tendency to lean to nostalgic concepts in my choreography. These two elements mixed with some personal experiences led to the concept.

How do you choose the different aspects of your piece: music, dancers, costuming, lighting, etc?
I actually struggled with finding music for the piece for quite a while. I was also having a hard time coming up with choreography while searching for the song, but when I heard it, all the pieces fell together so easily. I chose the dancers that I did because I knew that they would understand the feelings behind the piece and be able to capture and project the right intentions. I also chose them because I knew that they would be willing to experiment and play around with different ideas.

How do you approach choreographing a piece?
First I usually work on a couple pieces of choreography that I can use as a source to draw on for the rest of the piece. Then once I am in the studio with my dancers, I use both the phrases I created and some new movement in the same style. Most of the movement comes pretty spontaneously which I like the feel of. I think that way it also has some room to evolve on the dancers and so then looks more natural.

What is the most exciting part about choreographing?
I think my two favorite parts about choreographing are both coming up with the initial material and then watching as my cast members make it their own.

How much time do you spend in the studio, both on your own and with the dancers in your piece, to determine your choreography?
For this piece I haven’t spent that much time in the studio. I have about three hours a week to set the choreography on my dancers, besides a few minutes here and there to work some things out, that’s pretty much all I use.

How is the process different this year when choreographing for your capstone versus last year when you choreographed for Raw Edges? 
Last year I felt as if I hadn’t fully developed the concept behind the piece and it was lacking for that. This year I am much more confident in the work. For the most part because I have been living with it for the better part of a year.

If you could offer insight as to how the capstone is completed with choreography?
I think it is really important to find a general idea for your capstone that you are really passionate about. I would recommend that you find that before you really think of an idea for your piece. Because you also have to write a research paper on your topic, it allows for a really deep and complex piece if you put the work into it. Once you have put in all the grunt work, the ideas about the actual piece evolve so much more easily.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Master Classes with Joseph Morrissey

Last week, the Mercyhurst Dance Department had the pleasure of hosting a number of master classes taught by Joseph Morrissey. Currently, Morrissey is the director of dance at Interlochen Center of the Arts. Prior to this position he was the Director of Artistic Planning and Touring for The Hong Kong Ballet. He has danced with Boston Ballet, Bavarian State Ballet in Munich, Germany, and the Charleston Ballet Theatre. He also holds a degree in Classical ballet from Indiana University and a masters in Performing Arts Administration from New York University.

Joseph Morrissey taught master classes at Mercyhurst from Thursday, March 31st, to Saturday, April 2nd. His enthusiasm and excitement flooded into the classes, pushing the students to continue to think about their dance in a new way. His brisk combinations and exact positions encouraged quickness of mind and body. Likewise, the emphasis on the use of pliƩ helped the dancers feel a rhythmic pulse through each combination, making the movement more natural and fluid. In his short time at Mercyhurst, Morrissey created a personal connection with each student, encouraging and correcting each individually. We are very thankful that Joseph Morrissey was able to come and share his talent with the Mercyhurst Dance Department.