“Physical Graffiti” Showcases Dance Students’ Unique Talent

By Oriana Gonzalez

This year’s “Physical Graffiti” marked the last performance from the Department of Dance 2018-2019 season. The show featured 11 original pieces with a variety of styles, from contemporary to ballet. Award-winning choreographer and professor of dance Loretta Livingston was the artistic director of the entirely undergraduate-choreographed showcase.

Each piece had its own unique flare inspired by each of the choreographers’ backgrounds and experiences. “Distorted by Suppression,” the second performance of the night, was a contemporary performance choreographed by fourth-year John Barclay. “Inspiration for my piece comes from how people manipulate and can suppress how people feel about a situation, how people conform to society or fit into a particular group, ignoring who they really are,” Barclay explained. In his piece, dancers wore black clothing and swiftly moved with umbrellas, representing how they try to find who they are in a world of confusion.

For some of the choreographers, it was their last performance of their college career. “It feels like I’m checking off all the things I’ve wanted to do in terms of choreography,” said Edgar Aguirre, a fourth-year student who choreographed “When the Boy Sang,” which was inspired by world renowned choreographer Donald McKayle, also Aguirre’s mentor. According to Aguirre, “Mr. McKayle passed away last year, but I really feel strongly about carrying his legacy, and I wanted to choreograph in his shapes and in his aesthetic.”

Photo by Skye Schmidt

An audience favorite performance was “Façade Azur” by third-year Emma Andres. The dancers wore beautiful blue flowy dresses and moved smoothly through the stage, emulating water-like movements through modern dance. “Physical Graffiti” was Andres’ first department choreographic show. “It’s exhilarating to be here,” Andres said. “All that hard work that you put into your piece finally pays off on stage, and you get to see how audience members react to it.”

Third-year Katherine Wong choreographed “Crushed in Confinement” and also danced in Ember Hopkins’ “The Beautiful Mess.” In Wong’s choreography, the dancers wore all-beige and the piece’s music helped bring a message of finding one’s inner peace, a concept that inspired Wong’s piece.

Photo by Skye Schmidt

“I like to draw the movement from my own personal experiences. I’ve learned vulnerability can be a big influence on how you move and how you generate movement,” Wong said.

The night ended with the appropriately titled “Finish,” choreographed by fourth-year Jessica Richards. The dancers wore black and perfectly contrasted the pink background. This energetic ballet piece excited the audience, as they clapped along with the performance’s music and excitedly hollered at the performers. “The feedback I’ve gotten from the piece has been really uplifting,” Richards exclaimed. “My dance showed how people can come together and not overshadow each other.”

“Physical Graffiti” demonstrated the students’ outstanding choreographic talent and dance skills. It was an extraordinary ending to this school year’s Department of Dance shows. Jacob Boarnet choreographed “The Darkest Nights Produce the Brightest Stars,” a piece that explored the idea of finding hope in the darkest times. This was the first time that Boarnet choreographed in a department show, allowing him to display his unique abilities and join his other fellow dance students in creating a spectacular show.

“Dance is so powerful,” said Boarnet. “Every single person interprets movement differently, so seeing how people create a concept based on different ideals or visuals and then create a cohesive piece that flows in a nice arc in a whole show, it’s something so magical!”