SRU student choreographers to have work adjudicated at Nov. 16-17 concerts


Woman dancing

Nearly 60 original pieces choreographed by Slippery Rock University
dance majors will be reviewed by department faculty at adjudication
concerts, Nov. 16-17 at the West Gym Dance Studio.

Nov. 2, 2017

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Michelle Slavik admits that an "adjudication concert" sounds intimidating, but for student choreographers at Slippery Rock University, it's often their first opportunity to have their work performed and assessed.

"It's scary putting it all out there," said Slavik, a senior dance major from Downingtown. "But it's such a rewarding process because you learn so much about yourself, as a person and as a choreographer, to get to work with dancers and practice leadership skills."

Nearly 60 original pieces choreographed by SRU dance majors will be reviewed by a "jury" of five faculty members at adjudication concerts, Nov. 16-17 at the West Gym Dance Studio. The four concerts - at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., Nov. 16 and 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Nov. 17 - are free and open to the public.

"The adjudication concerts are one of the strengths of our program," said Ursula Payne, professor of dance and Dance Department chair. "It's how we mentor and develop student choreography and performance and it's a process for how we determine whose pieces move on to be produced more fully in concerts."

Dances that meet a designated score on a 100-point scale will be selected for the department's fall and winter concerts, Dec. 9-10 at Swope Music Hall, and Feb. 3 at the Succop Theater in Butler, respectively. Last year, nearly half the adjudication performances were selected for the two concerts.



"The students are making decisions for themselves about what they are investigating," said Payne, who encourages students to think deeply about such elements as their use of space, the music-dance relationship and costuming, all while conducting two rehearsals per week. "It's a huge commitment but that's where they are honing their skills and developing their aesthetic and their leadership ability."

While some student choreographers will develop more than one dance, there are 28 solo performances or duets and 30 group performances. Group dancers go through an audition process to match their preference for the dance and the choreographer's selection of dancers. In total, 80 students participate and they could dance in anywhere from 2-5 numbers.

According to Payne, the adjudication concerts are important not only for the department's accreditation, which recognizes how faculty assess students, but how well the process prepares students for the high standards of being a professional, or someday managing their own dance studio.

"All of that feeds into the kinds of things they are expected to do once they graduate," Payne said. "When people encounter students from SRU they are impressed with the level of their professionalism, how they are in the rehearsal process, how responsible they are and their body of knowledge."

The types of dances at the adjudication concerts will range from tap, jazz, modern and contemporary. Slavik, in addition to serving as one of two student directors for the concert, is choreographing a group piece and a solo piece. The group dance she is developing is inspired by ON DISPLAY, a movement of diverse and extreme bodies from a sculpture court that was directed by Heidi Latsky, which Slavik researched last summer at the American Dance Festival in Durham, North Carolina.

"All the rehearsals and planning stresses you out," Slavik said. "But at the end you have a piece you can look at it and think, 'Wow, I didn't know I was capable of that.'"

Slippery Rock University's dance program was recently ranked among the top 20 College and University dance programs in the nation by SRU came in at No. 15 nationally, No. 7 regionally and at No. 2 in Pennsylvania.

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