First graduating dance major featured in Dance Spectrum

Music and multicolored lights flooded the stage of the William Granger Ryan Theatre on opening night of Dance Spectrum, Seton Hill University’s (SHU’s) spring dance concert. The idea of the concert being a dance spectrum was represented throughout the nine performances, all of which brought something different to the table.

Ballet, theatre, duets and solos all contributed to giving a unique voice to each aspect of Dance Spectrum, but one of the parts about the concert that made it especially distinctive was the student participation.

The students involved in the production played an important role in some of the music that was chosen to be performed. Peggy Ann Shaffer, a junior and dance student, was one of many who helped in this process.

“The Dance Rehearsal and Performance class created a dance piece from scratch and (would) perform it in the concert…Brittany Anderson found the song that we used for our piece. It’s called ‘Your Hand in Mine’ and the song title and music fit perfectly with everything we wanted to present and represent in the piece.”

Not only were students involved in choosing the songs, but one performing arts student, Aaron Manzano, composed and played his song “Hello Yoko” for the second dance.

“[I want to get] music students more involved in writing music for dance concerts,” he said the night of the dress rehearsal.

TaMara Swank, assistant professor of theatre and dance, choreographed four dances for Dance Spectrum.

“It truly was a spectrum of dance because of the wide variety of styles included,” said Swank.

Ken Clothier, assistant professor of theatre, was the lighting designer for the show. The extensive use of brightly colored lights and backgrounds was crucial to the movements of the dancers as well as the costumes that were worn.

“[Light should] always support the movement on stage—it shouldn’t be a distraction…it should be giving the idea of movement with light,” said Clothier.

Clothier worked with Swank as well as other choreographers, Stefen Zubal, Lori Incardona and Jamie Erin Murphy on the types of lights that should be used for the dances and when they should be used. The use of lighting also brought in Susan O’Neill who was the costume designer.

The inspiration for many of the concert’s elements stemmed from the music that was used. The song “Furious Angels” by Rob Dougan unleashed a great amount of energy from the dancers, helped by the lighting and costumes provided.

“[You] could just immediately envision wings on their arms,” said Swank.

“Sue’s costume design fueled the want to show off low light,” said Clothier.

“What really struck me about this particular production is how much we’ve grown as a program. We’ve always had a great commitment to dance and now we can take it to a higher level. The tremendous growth of this program is phenomenal [and something] to be proud of,” said Clother.

The concert has shown the tremendous growth of the dance department in Seton Hill University’s Performing Arts Center (SHUPAC). This year will be the first year a senior will graduate with a degree in dance. Not only have the productions grown in numbers of dancers but also in talent and creativity.

“I think the most rewarding part of being a part of Dance Spectrum is to be a part of it. Dance Spectrum shows how the dance department has grown so much over the years. TaMara told us when she first started working here and had her first Dance Concert, the entire show consisted of six dancers. Dance Spectrum had 35 dancers. I think it’s really amazing to be a part of such great growth, not only in size but in scale of production as well,” said Shaffer.

Gretchen Cullinson, a sophomore who worked on the dance concert as one of the costume technicians, said, “When you make everything one by one then see it all together, it’s really awesome.”

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