YSU Dance Ensemble Leaps into Opening Night

Mary Rodack
Jambar Contributor

Youngstown State University’s Dance Ensemble performed its all faculty and student choreographed program for the first time Feb. 28 in the Ford Theater in Bliss Hall.

Emily McConnell, a freshman in the dance ensemble, said her favorite piece in the show to perform was “Day in the Sun.” It was created by one of the student choreographers, Sarah Gage.

The program consisted of 12 dance pieces split into two acts. The dance pieces were choreographed by three faculty members and nine student choreographers.

Rachel Davis, one of the choreographers and a graduate student, said all of the choreographers bring their own unique talents and styles of dance to the group.

The night began with Gage’s “Day in the Sun” set to “Epilogue” from “La La Land.” It included many recognizable moves from the musical, however, remained an original dance on its own. “Day in the Sun” started the program off with an energetic and exuberant performance.

Dancers kept the high energy throughout the night, whether it was for an emotional, somber piece or a lighthearted dance.

Faculty choreographers, Amy Wright and Abbey Alter, created their dances around feminist themes. Alter’s piece, titled “The Rainbow Lounge,” contains some adult language and themes. It presents the issue of  the “unattainable set of characteristics women are saddled with,” according to the narrator.

Wright said her piece, “Wo(es of)men,” was inspired by women’s narratives being ignored. She said Brett Kavanaugh’s hearing concerning alleged sexual assault motivated her to create a poem and dance about women’s stories. The narration that aligned with the dance was written and spoken by Wright.

Other pieces covered a variety of topics ranging from understanding mental health to participating in conformity to enjoying a certain song. Despite the variety of topics, dancers kept the same level of intensity and drama.

All of the dance pieces showcased the full range of these dancers’ skills. Numbers included styles such as tap, hip hop, modern and some ballet. The full ensemble was never seen on stage at one time, but the larger group numbers were cohesive and took up the stage.

“Everybody gets along really well,” Davis said. “We’re all super supportive of each other and hype each other up.”

Wright said the ensemble is full of joy and many pieces are created with collaborative spirit.

Connie Raib, an audience member, said it was a “very nice show” and loved to see the evolution of it. Raib is the mother to Erianne Raib-Ptichkin, one of faculty choreographers. Raib enjoyed the pieces “Niko’s Request” and “Correctional Measures” at the performance.

Sydney DiCenso came to opening night to see several of her friends who dance in the ensemble. DiCenso, a sophomore majoring in music education at YSU, enjoyed the show and said the dance program has “really talented choreographers.”

Three of the numbers will be performed at the 2019 American College Dance Association Central Region Festival in March. Two of those pieces were choreographed by students in the dance ensemble.