Samantha Norton

Equinox Staff


Dancing is a moving portrayal of art, one that puts expression and inspiration up for interpretation. These interpretations of art forms allow student choreographers and dancers, senior Deirdre Lewis, senior Ashley Taylor, and senior Stephanie Gemme, to let their artistic viewpoint be heard. Drawing inspiration from poetry, music, literature, and personal experiences allows these choreographers to create movements that directly correlate to the inspirations from which they are derived.

The poem, “Monday,” by Billy Collins is what helped Lewis envision her solo performance. “I took whatever the poem meant and made movement based off of that,” Lewis said.  To Lewis it was essential to represent how significant the space is to the performer, which ties into the poem. “It’s about how the window is important to the poet,” Lewis said. This poem provided Lewis with a clear window of how to structure each step, each movement.

However, this poem not only instilled a sense of inspiration in Lewis, but will also be used as the sound score for her solo. Billy Collins’ words are ones that got Lewis in tune with the beat and moving her feet.

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Lewis will not just be performing her solo piece; she will also be dancing in Taylor’s choreographed dance. Taylor, who choreographed a piece for the showcase last year, wanted this dance to take her out of her comfort zone and one that made her think outside of the box, she said.

The beats of M.C. Escher are ones that provided Taylor with her inspiration. “He inspired me because he’s very symmetrical, very asymmetrical. Throughout the piece there’s a significant shape being shown, which kind of represents his work,” Taylor said.

The movements throughout Taylor’s creation are sequenced in a symmetrical pattern- a pattern that allows Taylor’s dancers, sophomore Margaret Leary, freshman Erin McNulty, and Lewis, to be cohesive and unified throughout the performance.

However, these movements are not ones that are easily created. The choreographers had to ensure that each step, each movement represented their vision, their interpretation. “It’s definitely an experience working with just yourself and getting that movement and deciding if it is showing what you really want to say,” Gemme said. The emotions and expressions translated through Gemme’s choreography represent experiences. “I kind of drew on life experiences and different relationships, whether it be friendships or relationships with parents, teachers, friends, boyfriend, girlfriend; more personally based. How other people felt about those similar experiences and not only make it personal, but relatable,” Gemme said.

Gemme’s dance, titled “Equilibrium,” showcases dancers McNulty and junior Amanda Jones.  But, for McNulty, relating to these experiences is not the difficult task. “Understanding what exactly the choreography was trying to obtain and then doing that,” McNulty said, is the hardest part.

“I come up with my own background story to help me figure out what is going on in my head, to help me connect the phrases,” Leary said. This technique allows for Leary to not only understand her choreographer’s interpretation, but it also allows her to understand each one of her movements.

The perfection of these steps is one that is derived from dedication and practice. “You literally eat, sleep, and breathe it here,” Leary said. These dancers all cannot fathom the idea of sitting in a classroom with just books.

“I can’t imagine what it would be like with four classes. That’s not normal for us to be sitting; it’s more hands-on,” Leary said. This hands-on experience allows for each dancer to refine their dance portrayals.

“The whole program in general is more intimate and it’s an easier way of learning- doing rather than listening to it,” Lewis said. This experience of choreographing performances is one that provides these dancers with tools they will utilize in the future. For Lewis, Taylor, and Gemme, the idea of choreographing dances is one that becomes more challenging with each piece. “I would say second time around for me is a lot more challenging because I know what to expect, but there’s more expectation out of you,” Taylor said.

These expectations are ones that Lewis, Taylor, Gemme, and their dancers all work hard to meet, but these dancers are all working hard to not only defy the expectations placed upon them, they are working to achieve their aspirations of performing in the future, owning dance studios, and being involved in dance education. These aspirations are ones these dancers are still pursuing, parallel to the ending of Gemme’s choreographed dance. “It ends with two people still searching for what they’re looking for,” Gemme said.

Samantha Norton can be contacted at

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