Students from Professor Cynthia McLaughlin’s Research in Choreography class (TAD 318) performed their choreography showcase on Dec. 8 and 9 in the Mabel Brown Room.
In TAD 318, dance majors spend the semester researching topics and methods that relate to creativity and the art of dance.
“They’re exploring and set their work on their peers… to revise it and keep asking questions about it and then present the work at the showcase,” McLaughlin said.
However, the students did not spend class time rehearsing their pieces.
“They don’t actually rehearse the work during class hours, so we have a full class just like any other class where we explore principles of choreography, but also explore principles of community building,” McLaughlin said.
The showcase featured 11 student choreographers with their corresponding 11 choreographed pieces spanning on various subject matters from everyday emotions to human rights.
Opening the performance was junior Samantha Parks’ “Advantages and Disadvantages,” which touched upon the word “power” and what the word actually means. Parks asked the audience the question, “What is power?”
Following was junior Olivia Powell’s “In Her Head,” senior Taevamaria Ahern’s “Below, Above, or Beside” and junior Nicole Graczewski’s “Ring the Bell.”
Junior Sylvan Williams’ piece “Barbara, Suzanne, Pollie, Lynne, Cathy, Diane, Carolle, Elizabeth, Jane…” was centered around women’s rights.
“It’s a brave choice for her to do this and she’s not dodging any bullets about what it’s about,” Williams’ dancer and sophomore Maya Mahoney said. “There’s different sections… following different mothers in their journeys and like what their choices are and then there’s a revolution phrase and a government phrase, it just shows different aspects of how much goes into women’s rights.”
Sophomore Allyson Crisa also was a dancer in Williams’ piece and said that she enjoyed being a part of this piece and the message behind it.
“It’s so cool to be in because we all have the same kind of views about it, it’s much more of a collective experience and when you get to do something about politics through dance, it’s a lot more influential,” Crisa said.
Additionally, Crisa described the process that Williams had her dancers work through during rehearsals.
“She had us read these inserts that was written about women that had failed abortions, so we would get up and we would read it and then we would fold it up and we would move in the way that it made us feel,” Crisa said.
Following intermission was junior Analisa Palla’s “di sec tion” which focused on human evolution.
“It’s about human evolution and how we don’t see the difference between our evolution and how we just feel… we’ve just been humans the whole time,” Crisa said. “… The piece follows through what it was like when we were chimps and everything and how we really evolved into more human-like with our brains… which is really interesting.”
Junior Emma Pinette’s “It Doesn’t Make Sense” was centered around religion, and, as Pinette said to the audience, “What makes us good or bad?”
“It’s not like influencing or pushing any ideas, it’s just each person has their own character and then developing to where the end of their lives end up, where people end up after death,” Mahoney said. “It’s really interesting because it has different sections, it mostly takes place in purgatory and then there’s heaven and hell… figuring out where that puts them in death and after life.”
The remainder of the showcase featured junior Ashlyn Labrecque’s “Everything Affects Everything,” junior Hannah Bennett’s “Stuck in a Loop,” and ended with senior Maria Sulc’s “Take Five.”
Mahoney described the experience dancing in the showcase pieces to be a positive experience.
“I love the both because they have a great structure to them, like their storyline is actually set up and it’s a lot easier to follow a dance and commit to things when there’s a storyline,” Mahoney said.
Similarly, Crisa “loved that the process is so unique in itself.”
McLaughlin said that the Choreography Showcase is a collaborative process that reflects upon the greater collaboration of society.
“When you’re making choreography, you’re making it on humans, so there’s not a real way to go about making it without humans, “ McLaughlin said. “We really need them to build the worlds that we’re making, so we work a lot in what it means to be a part of a creative community and how to collaborate.”
Nicole Dumont can be contacted at