SRU dance students, professor ‘Scan Horizon’


dancer monica traggiai

Monica Traggiai, a Slippery Rock University dance major from Sarver, will perform during SRU Dance Theater’s Feb. 6 “Scanning the Horizon” concert at Butler County Community College’s Succop Theater. (Photo by CLiK Studios.)

Jan. 29, 2016

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - More than 50 Slippery Rock University dance students will present "Scanning the Horizon" Feb. 6, performing their own choreography and the premier of "1,500 Miles to Budapest," a dance in honor of Syrian refugees.

jennifer keller


"Scanning the Horizon" will be presented at 2 and 6:30 p.m. at Butler County Community College's Succop Theater.

Jennifer Keller, SRU professor of dance, said she has been so moved by the mass flight of Syrian refugees to Europe, she created "1,500 Miles to Budapest" as a tribute. Eighteen students will perform the choreography.

"While I can't present solutions to this crisis in my choreography, I've tried to create empathy among the dancers for the plight of these refugees and a greater understanding of what it means to leave one's home and endure an exhausting and perilous journey," Keller said.

The 1,500 miles symbolizes the journey between Syria and Budapest, Hungary. Thousands of migrants have made their way to Hungary in search of a better life due to unrest in Syria.

Students said they are honored to debut "1,500 Miles to Budapest."

"Through an improvisational process, it is amazing how Jennifer has given us a foundation through current events, and how inspired and vulnerable I have become," said Karen Montague, a dance and public health major from Roslyn.

"This piece takes me back to my travels in Budapest," said Aliecia Anderson, a dance major from Pittsburgh who has family in a small village outside Budapest. "I feel that a piece of my heart and soul will stay with this dance forever."

Several dance majors will perform solos during the concert. They include Malena Maust of Butler, Lindsay McGivern of Allison Park, Darrin Mosley of York, Monica Traggiai of Sarver and Kacei Womack of Philadelphia. Taylor Hahn of Hanover, Emmalee Hallinan of Altoona, Gabrielle Henry of Bethel Park and Alexandra Rodwick of Pittsburgh will present group chorography.

McGivern said she created a group work in a jazz aesthetic to examine the concepts of conformity and non-conformity.

"I started with the idea of never having my dancers leave the stage, and they became 'enclosed' in the space," she said. "I tried to develop innovative movement within a confined space; in other words, I tried to think outside the box while remaining inside the box."

Rodwick said she researched the five stages of emotional response to death and dying, originated by psychologist Elisabeth Kübler Ross.

"My choreography is a depiction of how individuals experience the five stages in any order, for various lengths of time, and to different severities," she said.

Traggiai said she was inspired to create her solo after studying for six weeks last summer at the prestigious American Dance Festival in Durham, North Carolina.

"My thoughts were consumed by how the brain functions and the decisions we make that affect our lives. This led me to investigate the neuro-science of decision-making, which opened up doors or choreographic possibilities for me," she said.

Hushon said she created her work following a favorite SRU philosophy class that examined the concept of free will.

"I decided to make this piece as a way to cope with my internal struggle about whether or not humans really have free will, or if the subconscious brain actually controls all of our thoughts, ideas and memories," she said.

Tickets, $10 for SRU students, seniors and children, and $15 for the general public, are available at the Smith Student Center Information Desk, 724.738.4926.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine | 724.738.4854 |