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November 8, 2013
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine

SRU dancers face adjudication concerts

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University dance students have been conceptualizing and rehearsing for months, spurred by the opportunity to showcase their best moves and choreography before an audience that matters - dance faculty.

SRU dance adjudication concerts get under way Nov. 14-15. More than 100 dance students will present pieces in the West Gym Dance Studio that utilize techniques they have worked on at SRU. Based on performances at the adjudication concerts, dance faculty will choose which pieces will be performed in December and early 2014.

"Students get to choose their concepts, music and dancers via audition, so that places a lot of control in the choreographer's hands," said Alanna Leipold, a dance major from Sykesville, Md., who will dance in a piece choreographed by Erik Cavanaugh, a dance major from Pittsburgh.

"In that way, I would say it is a culmination of everything they have learned at SRU," Leipold said.

Leipold said she prepared by first attending the audition and being selected as a dancer in the piece. Then, during the rehearsal process, her group practiced and perfected the movement.

"After participating in choreography labs, where a faculty member critiques the work, we polish the piece and get our minds and bodies ready to perform," she said. "The process is usually individual at that point. Everybody has his or her own methods to get ready to perform."

The concerts give students an outlet for creative exploration in the form of dance.

"Dancers from SRU are unique in their technical clarity, creative eye and open mind to take any of the many opportunities presented," she said. "This program produces well-rounded individuals prepared to experience the professional world of dance or any career they may choose. I auditioned at eight dance programs around the country and none compared to the well-balanced and inspiring atmosphere at Slippery Rock University."

Rebecca Burcher, a dance major from Walnut Creek, Calif., said she choreographed a five-minute modern solo tiled "An Ice Princess Who Raised Me with Glass Kissed."

"The piece is about the concept of perfection; how we are always striving to be the perfect daughter, the perfect student, the perfect girlfriend, the perfect dancer, but we know that 'perfect' isn't real and it's not something attainable," she said.

Burcher said she also choreographed a four-and-a-half minute modern group piece titled "Through Hearts and Mouth We Remain."

"The movement is loosely based on the ability of some to accept the fact that they are dying and then face death at peace," she said.

Burcher said she hopes to continue her education at Smith College or Florida State University to receive a graduate degree in dance. "After school I plan to move to New York City and dance professionally as well as start an after-school recreational dance program for children with disabilities," she said.

Taylor Pearson, a dance and early childhood development major from Baltimore, said would be presenting a duet called "Fainting, We Followed."

"The inspiration for my piece came from couples throughout history and literature that endure a tragedy within their relationship," she said. "I researched and pulled from this theme to generate the movement and feeling of my piece. The process included collaboration between the dancers and me. As I set the movement of the piece, I encouraged an open dialogue and opportunities for the dancers to draw from their own inspiration."

These concerts are important because they give dance majors a chance to showcase their own choreography.

"We have the chance to actually apply what we learn in our composition classes. Slippery Rock University's dance department gives students a lot of choreographic opportunities that a lot of dance majors in other programs do not receive. This puts us one step ahead for when we enter into the field."

After graduation, Pearson said she would like to teach pre-professional ballet dancers, as well as teach in an elementary school.

"I would also like to work for a non-profit organization that brings free dance lessons to children in local communities, as well as into the school setting," she said.

Faculty adjudicators for the concert are: Teena Custer, instructor of dance; Jennifer Keller, professor of dance; Nola Nolen Holland, assistant professor of dance; Ursula Payne, professor of dance; and Melissa Teodoro, associate professor of dance.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.