“Room to Dance” Showcases Students’ Artistic Visions May 31 and June 1

Dance Theatre of Santa Fe’s annual summer dance presentation, “Room to Dance,” will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 31 and Saturday, June 1 in the Santa Fe College Fine Arts Hall. With an ensemble of nearly 40 SF student dancers, this year’s student-choreographed production promises an evening of diverse, artistic voices sure to entertain and inspire audience members.

Ranging from hip-hop to contemporary ballet and everything in between, each student choreographer has worked through the process of researching choreography, developing movement ideas and seeing their artistic vision through to the finished production. With SF dance faculty mentors Sarah Harkness-Sebastian, Melissa Canto and Jessica Mayhew to help guide them along the way, these students are proud to share their unique artistic voices with the SF and Gainesville communities.

The choreographers have expressed in their own words what their work means to them.

“‘We Change’ is about how people change while being in a relationship. Everything starts out great, and then things seem to go downhill, and we see ourselves in the mirror and don’t recognize our own reflection,” said Isabel Teller. “We fight with ourselves until we realize that we must let go of what we had. If you love something you must let it go.”

According to Calypso Meyers, her piece “Pub Rats” is inspired by recent popularization of foot-stomping folk bands and the lively traditions of Irish pub dancing. The choreography is a mix of modern and ballet partnering, with the addition of stomping, clapping and going a little crazy on chairs.

“The piece is dedicated to my best friend and was created to be a celebration of friendship and the excitement of leaving to start a new adventure, but always knowing where home is,” said Meyers.

Jerel Hercules worked to create a piece that blended his hip-hop background with the dance styles he has been learning at SF.

“What started off as just a simple hip-hop routine became an experience in merging different areas of dance into something new,” Hercules explained. “I’ve always wanted to showcase the hip-hop that started my dance career with the modern technique that has helped me transform into the dancer that I am today.”

“Lion Still Has Claws,” choreographed by Adrianne Ansley is a reflection on the inner strength of character within a person through feminine and masculine movement.

“Having self-restraint, composure or cat-like methods, examining oneself can discover a new power that can affect others,” Ansley said. “Throughout all things that are bewildering in life, no one can take the power from within. A force of such inner strength can be so powerful and erupt something so magnificent.”

Mia Redding and Raven Moore collaborated to make a work that fused their two artistic voices together.

“Our piece is a high-energy, spicy, jazz funk modern fusion dance. This dance is very entertaining from the first beat drop to the end,” Redding said. “Hard-hitting moves, partnering and high energy fills the stage. It’s something that would want to make you get up off your feet and groove!”

For this year’s production of “Room to Dance,” Rikka Murray was inspired by Alvin Ailey’s aesthetic.

“I wanted to have my own storyline. I always strive to send a message out to the audience. The choreography consists of grounded and swift moves, which challenge the dancers not only technically but rhythmically. This makes the work an emotional experience for the dancer and audience,” Murray said.

Danielle Laufersky challenged herself in new ways, creating a work set on an all-male cast.

“For ‘Room to Dance’ this year I was inspired by the multitude of male dancers that were present at the audition,” Laufersky said. “While watching them dance I was struck with the idea that male dancers are very strong, but can portray gracefulness. Because of this inspiration I decided to choreograph an all-male piece. I am very excited to see how these men will transform the movement into a beautiful story.”

The concert will feature choreography by guest artist Cornelius Carter. Carter comes from the University of Alabama, where he serves as professor and director of the dance program, as well as artistic director of the Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre. He has set an original work titled “In Memory of…,” inspired entirely by the talent and heart displayed by the SF dancers whom he worked with during his visit. Students also had the opportunity to take a master class with Carter as well as spend time speaking with him about the dance profession, choreographic process and the various dance internships and opportunities available in the U.S. and abroad.

Tickets are $15 for orchestra seating or $12 for balcony seating. All tickets are $9 for seniors, children 12 and under, and UF students with valid ID. SF students, faculty and staff are free with valid I.D. Tickets can be purchased online or at the Santa Fe Box Office, 352-395-4181. A special Q&A session with the choreographers will be held immediately following each show.

For more information on “Room to Dance” and Dance Theatre of Santa Fe, please contact Sarah Harkness-Sebastian at 352-395-5674 or sarah.harkness-sebastian@sfcollege.edu.