BY AHLIA DUNN ’20
Last week, the Mount Holyoke dance department held their annual faculty dance concert in the Kendall Sports and Dance Complex. The show featured student performances choreographed by faculty from Mount Holyoke and some of the Five Colleges. The show’s program describes the Five College dance department and the event as a “collaboration founded on a commitment to honor, respect and support the individual perspectives on dance characteristic of each campus.”
Caroline Fermin, a visiting professor from the Mount Holyoke department, gave an innovative performance. Fermin used internet polling software during her performance and allowed the audience to “turn on [their] phones” and log on to an online poll that gave the audience a chance to “choose their own adventure” of sorts during her performance. The audience was allowed to choose from options like “lines or circles” or “bees or bears” which Fermin would then interpretively perform depending on which option garnered the most votes.
The performances continued with a modern dance choreographed by Artistic Director Barbie Diewald that utilized dramatic light design and sound effects. “The MHC faculty dance concert is always one of my favorite performance opportunities in the fall because it brings students from all five colleges together performing in different genres of dance,” said Kate Meacham ’20, one of the dancers in the piece.
Many of the performances included entire ensembles from other schools. Members of the Smith dance department performed to a medley of Jimi Hendrix songs excerpted from the Bebe Miller Company’s “The Hendrix Project.” “It’s fun for us as performers to meet new students from other schools and have that bonding experience on stage, and I think it’s fun for the audience because we share that experience with them,” said Meacham.
The grand finale of the show was an electrifying hip hop performance titled “Battle My City,” choreographed by Mount Holyoke professor Shakia Johnson. The dance featured students from the Five Colleges and was set in the Bronx, New York. UMass senior Paulina Schaefer performed in the last number. “I have been dancing at Mount Holyoke since I was a sophomore and I am absolutely in love with the studios they have there,” said Schaefer. As a dance major, she can appreciate the dedication of the department. “We don’t have that kind of funding or those kind of facilities at UMass,” she added. Schaefer was part of Johnson’s hip hop ensemble and really enjoyed spending time at Mount Holyoke rehearsing and meeting new friends to dance with. “I think the best part of my experience in this process was being surrounded by such incredible people and movers. I truly learned so much from Shakia Johnson-, the choreographer --— she is so insanely talented and welcoming making this process so enjoyable for me and the rest of the dancers,” said Schaefer. She also highly recommends Johnson’s hip hop courses.
Emmy Biddle ’20 had never been to a dance concert and loved what she saw. “It was definitely a lot different from what I expected. I came in thinking that it would be a lot of ballet and very traditional dance, but what I saw was way more modern and interpretive which was pretty cool.”