By Zach Mosca
After a long absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Youngstown State University’s Department of Theatre and Dance is hosting its very first virtual recital titled “Now You See Us.”
“Now You See Us” will consist of multiple different pieces, each choreographed and shot by one of three choreographers. Senior dance management major and dance ensemble president Erica Hays is involved in two pieces: one modern and one tap.
“[Each choreographer] did a few numbers. Primarily modern, but we also have a few tap and jazz pieces which is very, very interesting. They all have their own concepts and different dancers and different styled things they touch on,” Hays said.
One piece choreographed by adjunct faculty member Abbey Alter is a reconstruction of a piece from dancer Isadora Duncan titled “Mother.” This piece focuses on the theme of loss.
“[Duncan] choreographed this solo in 1921 and she choreographed it after the death of her two children,” Alter said.
Alter was originally not going to include this piece in the recital. However, after seeing how well her students performed the piece when she taught it in her choreography class, she decided to include it.
“For me, it proves what becomes artistic. If it is a worthy artistic piece, it can relate and speak to people over the years. What you have in this piece is a piece that is over 100 years old that a group of modern students can relate to with such intensity that they did this beautiful piece of work,” Alter said.
According to dance professor and recital director Amy Wright, the department was able to try many new techniques with this event due to it being pre-recorded and edited rather than performed live in front of an audience.
“In many of the dances, we took advantage of the opportunity to show the choreography in ways that you can’t do in a live concert, and in a couple of the dances, we actually took the cast out to interesting sites around campus and the Youngstown area,” Wright said.
When it comes to shooting pieces on video versus performing live in front of an audience, Hays said the two methods are very different from one another.
“When we perform for an audience, if we do it over three nights, you do all of the pieces that you’re in once and that’s just it,” Hays said. “But as you go into the filming process, they’re like, ‘Hey, we saw you mess up on this part. Let’s refilm it and do it from a different angle.’”
In addition, the lack of an audience eliminates immediate feedback for the performers. Hays said that without the presence of that feedback, a sense of energy in the room is lost.
“You have to put on more of a performance when it’s on film because you don’t feel that energy, that push-and-pull between everyone in the room,” Hays said.
However, Wright explained how the dancers were able to rekindle the energy in an empty room.
“It turns into a bit of a trade-off because while the experience of performing is different, we got to turn it into an opportunity to try things in a lot of different ways and discover together as choreographers, dancers, videographers and editors the best version of the work,” Wright said.
The recital will be shown at 7:30 p.m. from Thursday, March 25 to Saturday, March 27. Tickets are free for YSU students.