Winter Dance Concert explores 'Borders and Boundaries'

Publication Date

Rachel Bryan ’24 has strong memories of nighttime skygazing in her Hudson, Mass., hometown.

“Growing up, I used to sit out on the porch with my dad at night, watching the stars or listening to thunder, and he would always tell me to ‘take a mental snapshot’ of the moment so I could go back to them later. I’ve been deeply inspired by these simple, grounding moments of reflection,” said Bryan, a geosciences major with a minor in Spanish.

Winter Dance Concert recital

Those memories are now embedded in “Stories of far away places,” a movement piece she created for this year’s Winter Dance Concert, “Borders and Boundaries.”

The 75-minute concert features 10 original works choreographed by students and faculty and presented by 33 student performers. Original costume and lighting designs were created in collaboration with the Department of Theater and Dance.

Performances are Wednesday, Feb. 28 through Saturday, March 2, at 7:30 p.m., with a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m., in the Yulman Theater.

“My piece explores the connection between the human mind and nature, and the powerful, resetting capabilities of stargazing,” Bryan said. “My goal has been to capture feelings that I’ve experienced while watching the stars on a clear night, alone or with loved ones, at home or on the other side of the world, that can’t quite be put into words.”

In all, the production involves more than 50 students and faculty, including dancers, and stage and production crews.

The featured works represent a variety of choreographic styles, approaches and sources of inspiration, with overlapping themes ranging from resilience and resolve to femininity and friendship.

Adriana Lawton ’24, a psychology major with a minor in Spanish, choreographed “Memories Not Lost,” a bittersweet story of growth and maturing in different directions. “My trio represents childhood friends who have grown up together but reach different paths. It is up to the audience to interpret where the friends’ paths lead to,” Lawton said.

Now in its 19th year, the Winter Dance Concert is “a celebration of the liberal arts in motion,” said Megan Flynn, the Gustave L. Davis ’59 and Susan S. Davis Director of Dance and the concert’s artistic director. She teaches the Group Choreography course.

The student choreographers have drawn inspiration from their academic interests, travel experiences and personal stories.

Grace Newcombe ‘25, a math major with minors in Spanish and dance, looked to her predominantly male math classes as a topic for her piece, “4!,” which poses the question, “How long will women in STEM continue to be ignored?”

“I realized how few women are represented in this field, which made me want to explore and convey their struggle,” Newcombe said.

Other student choreographers include Maia Carty ’24, Eva Crowley ’24 and Sarah Dames ’24.

Other dancers include Zoe Amram ’26, Ashlesha Bhagat ’26, Jolita Brettler ’25, Maggie Buckley ’27, Mel De La Cruz ’26, Cassie DeGeorge ’26, Sarah DeRosa ’25, Mahek Desai ’24, Ava DuBoff ’25, Raquel Dueñas ’25, Sofia Gray ’27, Livi Gwinnett ’25, Anthony Montás ’26, Morgan Napier ’25, Alexandra Nicolaus ’24, Lizzy Paykuss ’26, Alicia Rose ’27, Brian Rusk ’25, Lydia Singer ’24, Anabel Sollinger ’25, Vaishali Srinivasan ’25, Sage Stinson ’25, Emily Tobar ’27, Jennifer Vil ’26, Abby Wilder ’25, Natalie Woodruff ’27 and Anna Zusi ’26.

The six student choreographers also dance in multiple pieces.

“It is a thrill to watch the growth of these artists and witness their unique visions come to life through design meetings with our faculty, costume designer Brittney Belz and lighting designer Drew Bodd,” said Flynn. “The collaborative, creative processes that are at the heart of the Winter Dance Concert give students the opportunity to take greater risks to stretch themselves as expressive artists and leaders.”

In addition to artistic directing and mentoring the student choreographers, Flynn has choreographed a new work inspired by the concept of signatures and contracts, “the imprints we leave upon each other, and the embodied call for what we desire to see change in the world.”

Other faculty choreographers include Laurie Zabele Cawley and multidisciplinary artist Hettie Barnhill.

Cawley, who praised the students’ “boundless creativity and unwavering commitment,” is presenting two works: “Invitation,” a cautionary tale, as well as a new work that explores the boundaries of the human open system. Barnhill’s piece is “Handle with Care," inspired by a quote from Alice Walker that echoes the lessons imparted to her by her mother and grandmother: “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”

Other faculty involved in the production include stage manager Mackenzie Trowbridge and projection consultant Andrew Mannion.

General seating tickets are available online through Eventbrite and at the Yulman Theater Box Office, open Monday-Friday, 1-2 p.m. The cost is $15 for general admission and $5 for those with a Union ID and senior citizens. For more information or reservations, call (518) 388-6545.


Moments from the Winter Dance Concert