Dance Ensemble: Inspiration and interpretation

Left to right: Lee Beitzel, Rebecca VanVoorhis and Olivia Bartie will perform a ballet dance titled “Jardin de la Fleur” in the upcoming Dance Ensemble recital. Photo courtesy of Anna Ruscitti.

The Youngstown State University Dance Ensemble will be putting on a dance concert April 10-12 at 7:30 p.m. in Bliss Hall’s Ford Theater.

There will be 12 different dances in the concert consisting of modern, hip-hop, ballet and ballroom.

Christine Cobb, a dance professor and adviser of the Dance Ensemble, said that the most popular genre of dance is modern.

“We always have modern. Most college programs are modern-heavy just because students discover that they can do so much more with modern than they can with the other forms,” Cobb said.

Students have to be in Dance Ensemble for at least one year before they have the opportunity to choreograph.

“They have to go through myself and to outside adjudicators to talk about their ideas, show some movement phrases, listen to the music, et cetera, and then they are given the go ahead to choreograph,” Cobb said.

The choreographers create the dances based off of what moves them, past experiences they have had in life, or what inspires them.

“It just depends on the choreographer’s vision and what they’re strong at, what their interests are at the time,” Cobb said.

The first performance will be “Second Stars and Second Chances,” choreographed by Joseph Alvey, a musical theatre major. The inspiration for this modern dance came from Peter Pan and her interpretation of the author’s creation.

“I think that his tale is so relate-able and universal. Everyone knows the story of the-boy-that-won’t-grow-up. I kind of took his tale and abstracted it. Each of the ‘characters’ in my dance represent each character [J.M.] Barrie created,” Alvey said.

The last performance in the first act is called “Vestiges” and is also a modern piece. The dance is choreographed by Caty Moran, vice president of Dance Ensemble. Moran was inspired by her visit to Gettysburg.

“My inspiration came from the fact that these spirits are forever trapped inside the house. I felt like it was my job to tell the stories of war that they were trying to tell me, and I dedicated my piece to them. I wanted to depict the hardships of war,” Moran said.

Moran and her boyfriend had visited toured a house that was turned into a makeshift union hospital.

“My piece is a three part piece all involving the old house. The first piece is real time civil war fighting that would have taken place outside the house. The second piece is about the girl who lived in the house and killed herself. The third piece is the spirits coming back to life and forever being trapped inside the house for their stories to be told for years,” Moran said.

The show will also feature other performances, each with its own unique story to tell. However, despite the choreographer’s idea behind each dance, Alvey said that it is up to the members of the audience to decide on what it is they actually see and experience.

“Come prepared to really think,” she said. “A lot of these dances are very abstract and are made to make the audience really look at them and think. Everyone will see the dance a different way, but don’t expect to know exactly what the choreographer is saying without thinking.”

After an intermission, a Latin piece called “My Girls” will be performed. The dance was choreographed by Alexey Kuprienko, a professional Russian ballroom dancer. “Jardin de la Fleur” is a ballet dance choreographed by Rebecca VanVoorhis. The night will conclude with “JTribute,” a dance complimenting Justin Timberlake and his music.

There are 26 total choreographers­ — comprised of both faculty and students — and dancers involved in Dance Ensemble, but participation varies from year to year.

“With the exception of Joseph Alvey who is a musical theater major, the rest of the choreographers are all dance majors or minors,” Cobb said.

Any students can audition, but those who audition need to have the right skill set. There is no cut-off number; however, being a part of Dance Ensemble is a commitment.