Every year the dance department of Radford University presents Paradigm Shift: An Evening of Women’s Work. In honor of Women’s History month, the Dance Department performed a celebration and representation of the work, struggle and background of women’s history in collaboration with the Women’s Studies Commitee. All choreographers and performers for this show were women who work hard daily to have their skills and art appreciated. This year’s choreographers are comprised of juniors and seniors from the dance department as well as Danah Bella Danceworks, a separate dance company that often contributes dancers and performers to RU productions.
The show began with a solo, choreographed and performed by senior Traice Collier. Her piece was modern, with a hip-hop influence and included striking music selections that added excitement and versatility to the piece.
The next performance was a group piece by senior Rebecca Brewer. Dancers included Brewer, sophomore Caitlin Ressegue, junior Courtney Meade, sophomore Emily Snow and freshman Emily Lee. This particular piece had great costuming. Performers wore the same dress with black tights, but each dancer wore a different color of the dress. It really added a dynamic feel, and visually it was a pleasure to watch.
Followed by Brewer’s group performance, junior Haley Schmitz performed a solo that encompassed great musical selections and a raw representation of women’s work. There was one particular instance where Schmitz appeared to be mimicking a house-bound wife and utilized that representation as fuel to depict the frustration and stereotype labels placed on women throughout the decades.
An additional solo followed, however it was different from the other pieces in the show in the fact that it was a clogging number. Sophomore Cherylann Ward performed a clogging routine that contained fancy footwork and intricate sounds. It added an Appalachian feel to the show, as well as diversity in the dance department. “It felt like it was almost in honor of St. Patrick’s Day because she really channeled self-proclaimed ‘Lord of the Dance,'” said Michael Flatley, a famous Irish step dancer.
Traice Collier then returned to the stage for a duet with sophomore Caitlin Potosnak. In addition to their performance, the dancers incorporated a scarf as a prop that added to the whimsical and practiced techniques by the dancers. It was a beautiful performance because the two were so similar and well-rehearsed in their choreography that what they were depicting was very believable. They were both displaying great struggle with the scarf which can be interpreted as the struggles that women have experienced historically and culturally.
Rebecca Brewer returned to perform her solo prior to the dancers from d a n a h b e l l a. Three of the four dancers that performed from the company are students. Seniors Laura Morris and Heather Brooks accompanied junior Courtney Meade in a performance with another company member that was present at the show. Their particular costume attire, which can be described as a light summer dress, negated their gestures as their movement appeared much more harsh and demanding compared to the orthodox feel of the sunny season. It was a piece that contained intricate lighting that aided the already great choreography.
All the pieces brought a new form of art and expression to the table. The intimate location of Peters Hall Albig Studio is a great location for smaller shows because the audience is placed near the stage, thus creating a close, personal atmosphere. The women who danced and choreographed for this show proved that women’s work is worth acknowledging.
The dancers all want to touch the dance world in their own specific ways, but Dance Education major Haley Schmitz wants to teach dance to children, specifically the children of Uganda. She liked choreographing for this show and enjoyed performing her own work.
“I like performing my choreography because I know it will look the way I want. You know your own style of moving and know that when you perform it the choreography will look that way,” Schmitz said.
To see more from the RU division of dance, check out http://dance.asp.radford.edu/events.htm.
Cover and story photo by Thomas Bowman