Dance Department ‘ReInvents’ tradition at concert

Students performed their own interpretations of a number of pieces of choreography.

By Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau

Time has been good to the College of Fine Arts and Production’s Dance Department. As the program concludes another successful semester and prepares to release a new generation of graduates into the field, the “ReInvent” Winter Dance Concert will highlight the beauty of merging tradition with an element of newness, for a fresh set of eyes.

Concerts are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Ethington Theatre, and Grand Canyon University students can get a free preview at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. It will showcase several new pieces of choreography as well as a number of reinvented older pieces. There also will be pieces from this semester’s widely respected residency artists, Janice Rosario and Susan Quinn.

Students will perform nine different pieces of choreography.

On the 10th anniversary of the department, Dance Director Susannah Keita thought it was an appropriate time to remember the art that the program created over the years while also continuing to move forward and reinvent itself.

“It’s kind of like looking back nostalgically,” Keita said. “We’re remembering the great things that have happened over the past 10 years.”

The concert will showcase several different genres of dance with its nine performances and will focus on the more artistic elements of dance.

Keita’s piece “Curiosity Slowing” is based on the phenomenon many face when slowing down while driving to get a better look at an accident on the road.

“It’s about order arising out of chaos through attention to a consistent pulse,” she said.

The concert will highlight a number of different genres of dance.

It will combine a multitude of genres and accompanying sounds and music that will allow audiences to determine the theme for themselves. Keita hopes the performance will bring out strong feelings in viewers, even if they aren’t immediately able to identify them.

Sections of different pieces Keita has created over the years will be combined and reinvented to, much like the theme of the show, take the old and make it new again.

Dance faculty and ReInvent choreographer Kevin Godfrey-Chevalier also will be refreshing a piece from his history in dance for the show. Godfrey-Chevalier’s  “Requiem” will focus around all the emotions one faces while grieving.

“For ‘ReInvent’ I was really looking at taking an old piece and putting it on new dancers and seeing kind of how they would interpret it and infuse it with life,” he said.

Godfrey-Chevalier said the piece will contain some changes from its original debut, but his main goal was to provide students the opportunity to discover the piece for themselves.

The concert will contain some "ReInventions" of some of the department's past pieces of choreography as well as some new pieces.

Alicia-Lynn Nascimento, COFAP dance instructor, based her piece “wilt, fall, root, rise, BLOOM” off a poem by Rupi Kaur. The piece looks at life through the metaphor of a flower and features an all-female cast to help reflect Nascimento’s vision for inspirational women.

“I am currently pregnant with my second child, and so this piece started with me thinking about all of my hopes and dreams for the future of my child, specifically from a mother’s perspective -- reflecting on my relationship with my mother, the miracle growing inside of me, the past women who have inspired me, the community of women that shape my life and will shape theirs, etc.,” Nascimento said.

“At the beginning of our process, each cast member wrote a letter to the woman who has most inspired them throughout their lives. The 10 cast members and two understudies all choose family member. Ten letters were to their mothers one to a grandmother and one to a sister.”

The "ReInvent" Winter Dance Concert will debut this weekend.

Seeing that spark of inspiration in her students is the most rewarding part for Nascimento.

“I am looking forward most to seeing the students becoming artists on stage,” she said. “It’s our choreography that in turn becomes their wonderful interpretations, and then the audience gets to enjoy and make up their own interpretations. Art is so beautiful in this way.”

The final piece of the night -- “Zuhm” choreographed by Quinn -- will be a chance to recognize and celebrate graduating seniors in their final winter concert. Although it is a piece that Quinn had worked on with different casts of dancers over her career, GCU seniors have the opportunity to make it their own.

“It was exciting learning a piece that had been done before but adapted for us,” said Carissa Eubank, a dance education senior. “It was exciting to see what the previous cast had done (at the University of Arizona) and an incredibly fun dance to learn.”

She wasn’t the only one.

“Even though it’s been done, we were able to put our individual personalities in the piece and make it our own,” senior Julia Geringer said.


What: “ReInvent,” the winter dance concert

Where: Ethington Theatre

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Dec. 6-7, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8

Tickets: $12 (discounts for senior citizens, military personnel, GCU employees and alumni, children 12 years old and younger, and GCU students)

Information: 602-639-8880 or click here


With the Seasons

Choreographer: Janice Rosario

Music: Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi, "The Four Seasons: Spring 3, Summer 2"

Dancers: Madeline Bosse, Patrick Devine, Elijah Figueroa, Zoe Hunter, Isiah Johnson, James Lantz, Destiny Magee, Olivia Neitzel, Alyssa Quiett, Jessie Symmes, Ellie Sheldon (Sunday only)

... easy as lending a cup of sugar (2015)

Choreographer: Rebecca Blair Price in collaboration with the dancers

Music: Original composition by Robin Vining

Dancers: Sarah Beebe, Elijah Figueroa, Melissa Morales, Rylie Pryately, Anna Sanamyan, Treva Stotts, Grace Valega, Emily Valenzuela (Understudy)

Waltz Humoresque

Choreographer: Jessica Blonde

Music: "Ballet Suite No. 1: V. Waltz-scherzo," "Ballet Suite No. 2: V. Spring Waltz," "Ballet Suite No. 1: III. Romance" and "Ballet Suite No. 1: Polka" by Dmitri Shostakovich

Dancers: Sarah Eloge, Zoe Hunter, Kyla Johnston, Alexandra Roth, Kendall Smith, Trinity Gracia (Understudy)

PROGRAM NOTE: This dance was inspired by Jerome Robbin’s The Concert.

Requiem (2016)

Choreographer: Kevin Godfrey-Chevalier
Music: "Elegy," Sanvean, by Lisa Gerrard; "Elysium, Now We Are Free," and "Honor Him" by Hans Zimmer
Dancers: Madeline Bosse, Destiny Magee, Abigail Neighbors, Alyssa Quiett, Ellie Sheldon, Jessica Symmes, Olivia Neitzel (Understudy)

A place to be together and a place to be alone.

Choreographer: Halley Lauren Willcox

Original Score: Tony Obr

Dancers: Kenzi Abalos, Joanna Aguirre, Kaylee Anderson, Patrick Devine, Antonette Fleming, Zoe Hunter, Isiah Johnson, James Lantz, Melissa Morales, Alyssa Quiett, Ivy Rose, Kendall Smith, Lazette Tirado, Rayshawn Watkins

wilt, fall, root, rise, BLOOM

Choreographer: Alicia Nascimento

Music: "Between the lines" by Felix Räuber, "Sleep deprivation 1" by the black dog, "Market Diktat" Song by Jean Philippe Goude

Dancers: Kenzi Abalos, Hannah Ahr, Madeline Bosse, Julia Geringer, Destiny Magee, Cassandra McGehee, Ivy Rose, Anna Sanamyan, Ellie Sheldon, Treva Stotts, Megan Neese (Understudy), Katarina Reick (Understudy)

Curiosity Slowing

Choreographer: Susannah Keita

Music: "Hands" by Four Tet, Suite for "Symphonic Strings: IX, Nocturne" by The New Professionals Orchestra- conducted by Rebecca Miller, "Night II" by Radio Citizen

Dancers: Sarah Elliott, Eli Figueroa, Guillermo Flores, Melissa Morales, Alyssa Quiett, Hailey Seaman, Ellie Sheldon, Kendall Smith, Jessica Symmes, Grace Valega, Kaylee Anderson (Understudy)

PROGRAM NOTE: Reinvented with references from Washed, Carried from the Winter 2015 concert and Galaxias from Spring 2017.


Choreographer: Molly W. Schenck

Original Score: William Crook

Dancers: Kenzi Abalos, Hannah Ahr, Hannah Bridgeo, Hailey Boggs, Patrick Devine, Antonette Fleming, Julia Geringer, Janessa Hill, Zoe Hunter, Isiah Johnson, James Lantz, Destiny Magee, Cassandra McGehee, Olivia Neitzel, Jillian Nelson, Anna Sanamyan, Lazette Tirado, Rayshawn Watkins

Zuhm (2003)

Choreographer: Susan Quinn

Music: "Everything," "Adagio," and "Crazy Benny" by Safri Duo

Dancers: Justine Bach, Madeline Bosse, Sarah Eloge, Carissa Eubank, Antonette Fleming, Guillermo Flores, Amy Gerlofs, Julia Geringer, Isiah Johnson, Melissa Morales, Rylie Pryately, Alyssa Quiett, Alexandra Roth, Anna Sanamyan, Jessie Symmes, Grace Valega, Ellie Sheldon (Understudy)

Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected]


Related content:

GCU Today: Dance Department presents at national conference

GCU Today: Spring Dance Concert ready to POP into Ethington


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