Taking the lead

Presenting two nights of dance

Luke Stergiou / Photo Editor

Kathryn Spadafora

Equinox Staff

This year’s Choreography Showcase was the culmination of a semester’s work for the choreographers and dancers, and a night of modern dance for audience members. The performance featured pieces created by up and coming choreographers at Keene State College and students of various dances and majors.

On Dec. 6 and 7, 2018, Keene State Students gathered in the Mable Brown Room for the annual Choreography Showcase.  The event drew both community members and students alike, and members of the Keene community arrived well before he dancing began at 7 p.m. for the best seats.

Some students, such as Valerie Mamish, found themselves at the showcase in support of friends and fellow Keene State students. When asked what brought her to the showcase on Thursday night, she stated, “My friend Ashley choreographed a dance. So, I’m coming to see her piece and watch her dance.” Mamish added, “I look forward to seeing what the students did over the course of the semester. I’ve never been to one of these before, so I’m excited to see that.”

For some of the students involved, the process of creating the pieces was an emotional one.

Senior Cassie O’Keefe, who choreographed the dance “Geraldine,” which was presented Friday night, was inspired by a topic very personal to her. “What inspired me about this piece was I am also a Women and Gender Studies major, and I feel very strongly women’s rights, women’s reproductive rights, and I think that’s an important story we need to tell and raise awareness for. I also love to dance —  I’m a dance major, so I thought to combine them.” Mamish said, “I think this audience doesn’t necessarily get to see political pieces a lot, and I thought it was important for them to see… I wanted the audience to kind of look away, but also want to watch.”

Cassie O’Keefe also described the process of preparing for show night. “First, we casted the dancers. We held an audition — anyone could come, you didn’t have to be a dancer. We’d then meet twice a week, and we’d talk about crafting and movement, how to manipulate that movement, and the relationships. Basically there were rehearsals twice a week, and then we picked the costumes and the lighting and put it all together!”

The hard work seemed to impress audiences, who clapped and cheered after every piece. Much effort was also put in, however, by the dancers. Audiences were open to all dancers and non dancers alike and a “first come first serve” process in which the choreographers would select which dancers they liked. Students of all ages and experiences participated, one of them being first-year Lilly Chong.

“I’ve danced since I was three, so I came here, and my friend who is in the show as well dances here. She texted me and asked if I was going to showcase auditions.” Chong, at the time, had not heard of the showcase. She, however, thought it sounded fun, and decided to go. “I got there and I was totally intimidated because I did not know anyone, and the audition process was hard because they were all looking at you and deciding if they want you or not. But I’m so glad I did it, it was amazing.” When asked to describe her experience in one word, Chong said “challenging.” “It’s finding yourself,” she continued, “It’s getting out of your comfort zone.” She also recommended the experience to all, dance majors and non dance majors alike.

Kathryn Spadafora can be contacted at


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