Shared Graduate Dance Concert at CSPAC

Last Friday, I made my way to the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland/College Park for the Shared Graduate Dance Concert. I was especially excited to see this performance as I had a buddy to go with – Angella Foster, Artistic Director of alight dance theater. Angella and I first connected after I wrote about their performance of Speechless at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. She not only kept me company, but also had a lot of insider information to share as she was a UMD-College Park Dance MFA Graduate herself.

as far as I know

Graham Brown rehearses 'as far as I know'

The Shared Graduate Dance Concert, directed by Paul D. Jackson, presented five different works including as far as I know performed by Graham Brown, Uncertainty…and then again… performed by Emily Oleson and Florian Rouiller, Of What I am Not and What I am performed by Diedre Dawkins and Bintou Kouyate, My Ex-Boyfriend (One Short Story) performed by Shannon Dooling and Opus 80 choreographed by Valerie Durham featuring Devin Brosnan, Diana Lopez, Lara Magill, Claire Smith and Kristin Yeung.

Angella said it best in her blog post about the show: “With the exception of the closing number (Opus 80), a light-hearted tribute to 80’s culture, all the other works explored questions of identity: Who am I? Who has shaped me? Who do I want to be?” The first piece choreographed and performed by Graham Brown resonated with her the most. She could relate to the story he told through movement, visuals and spoken word which discussed a complicated relationship with his father.

Shannon Dooling also shared a personal story through movement intertwined with spoken word in her piece My Ex-Boyfriend (One Short Story). I loved that she incorporated a live cellist into the performance, but I thought the narrative lacked the depth of Graham’s work. I had the same response to Diedre Dawkins and Bintou Kouyate’s Of What I am Not and What I am which explored the issue of race. I enjoyed the high energy performance, but it left me wondering how they have personally struggled as African-American women. What was their unique take on the subject matter?

I thought more about my reaction to these pieces as Angella and I recapped the show at Silver Diner. I started to ask myself: What stories would I share as a choreographer? Would I be able to create movement that delves into my deepest sorrows, my darkest secrets? What would it be like to expose your inner monologue to an audience? Perhaps I will find out someday, but for now I commend all the performers at the Shared Graduate Dance Concert for having the strength to provide a glimpse into their worlds.

For more information about the University of Maryland School of Theatre Dance and Performance Studies, visit their website; and for details on upcoming events at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, click here.

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