The Pomona College and Scripps College dance departments premiered their student choreography showcase, “In The Works,” at Pomona’s Pendleton Dance Center on Dec. 5. The show exhibited original pieces from nine student choreographers in styles that ranged from ballet to Irish dancing to flamenco.
Within the intimate atmosphere of Pendleton, audience members were able to see both the technical skill and passion of the dancers. The styles and themes of each piece also provided a wonderfully diverse and intriguing look into the creative mind of each choreographer.
Organizer and choreographer Emily Simmons SC ’14 said that the show is as much of an opportunity for performance as it is for creative growth.
“As a dancer, the show has provided me with unique performing opportunities that have pushed me technically and expanded my repertoire, and created countless connections and friendships,” Simmons said. “As a choreographer, ‘In the Works’ has given me a space to explore and create dance, a space that provides criticism and feedback while providing the support to strengthen my choreographic skills.”
The student choreographers found many unique and creative sources of inspiration for their pieces.
For her piece, Michelle Nagler SC ’15 said she was inspired by “Spanish arm movements and the passion for life that I saw at la Feria de Sevilla, an annual weeklong fair in Seville, Spain every spring, which celebrates life in song and dance.”
Emily Kleeman PZ ’14 based one of her pieces on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Some of the choreographers, like Max Greenberg SC ’14, found inspiration in the rehearsal process. Greenberg titled her exotic dance piece “Am I sexy yet?” after receiving the question from one of her dancers.
Although many choreographers collaborated with professors from the Scripps and Pomona dance departments, almost all attributed some creative credit to their student dancers.
“Often I would come into a rehearsal with some general idea of what I want them to do, and then will ask for their feedback on what they think works,” Megan Gianniny SC ‘14 said of her dancers.
Nagler also said that her dancers were an integral part of her creative process.
“There were times when I asked them to elaborate on and improvise with movement and ideas I gave them,” Nagler said. “These contributions add another dimension of excitement to the piece. It encourages the dancers to feel connected to the work and to each other by adding their own artistry and establishing relationships with one another.”
While some choreographers are presenting work that will be used for their theses, others are utilizing the opportunity to choreograph for purely creative reasons.
“After you graduate college it is a lot harder to find the time, space, and dancers to choreograph and then show your work,” Liv Townsend SC ’14 said. “I just like to create movement and then play with the different phrases.”
The choreography at “In The Works” showcased the diversity and creativity at work in the Claremont dance departments. However, Simmons said the show also develops community across the 5Cs.
“The community that the show creates across departments and schools is one of the greatest rewards of the experience,” she said. “I am incredibly grateful to the group of talented and creative women that danced with me this semester.”
“In The Works” will be presented at the Pendleton Dance Center Dec. 6 at 8 p.m. and Saturday Dec. 7 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Admission is $5 at the door, cash or check.