Dance Performance Project prepares for socially-distanced performances


Courtesy of Keith Costa

Dance Performance Project, the university’s resident student contemporary dance company, performing in their Fall 2019 mainstage dance concert.

The university’s Contemporary Dance Program is not letting a pandemic put a stop to its performances this season.

Under the Department of Music and Performing Arts, the Dance Performance Project is a contemporary dance group for students who want to express themselves through the art of movement.

The 2020-2021 season includes a variety of performances, from senior dance concerts to pieces inspired by current events.

Keith “Skip” Costa, artistic director for the Dance Performance Project, shared that each performance has its own individual theme.

“There is no overall theme, but we do have conceptual themes for each concert,” said Costa. “As a whole, all of our yearly concerts are based around the theme of humanity and how dance plays an active role in understanding the human condition.”

Dancers as well as audience members will have to adhere to social distancing guidelines for performances. Costa explained how this can create unique challenges for choreographers.

“Choreographers are being asked to create works that allow for six-feet social distancing on stage, as well as wear masks or face coverings,” explained Costa. “This is a real challenge for large ensembles and duet/trios that require lifts and personal moments during their performances. Audience members will need to follow similar guidelines.”

Leigh Moore, a junior biological sciences and general studies major, has been dancing for 11 years. She shared what the rehearsal process has been like this semester.

“It has been stressful because we are currently re-learning dances for our concert in ways that adhere to social distancing guidelines, but it has also been a really great experience, and it’s definitely helped me grow as a performer,” mentioned Moore.

Moore also shared her thoughts about performing during a pandemic.

“I feel good about it,” said Moore. “I think it’s going to be a really great time to put what we have been working so hard for onstage. It’s great knowing that we can do it, even with everything going on.”

Emma Pinion, a senior biological sciences and general studies major, is one of the choreographers for the Dance Performance Project. She shared where the inspiration for her choreography comes from.

“Most of the time, my choreography is musically driven,” said Pinion. “Therefore, I create movement based on how the music makes me feel. I generally like to tell a story through my movement. I hope to connect with the audience.”

Pinion discussed what she is looking forward to about this season of dance performances, as well as what she is concerned about.

“This season is very personal,” noted Pinion. “I feel this is because we are trying to express how us as dancers feel about the lack of normalcy, due to coronavirus and other crises. Practices have been chaotic. The hurricanes back-to-back messed up the schedule a bit. Also, it is hard to dance continuously for a long period of time with the mask on. Other than that, everyone is working together and giving their all to produce a successful show.”

Stephanie Harris, a senior general studies major, is showcasing her original choreography on the main stage for the first time. She explained what she thinks will make this season stand out from previous ones.

“I think the passion this season is going to be through the roof,” said Harris. “We missed out on so much that everyone had fallen in love with dance all over again. Emma and I started planning our shows very early for the spring, and we’re both certain it’s going to be a semester of love for dance and creativity.”

Harris revealed that the pandemic gave her a new appreciation for dance, especially when it comes to rehearsals.

“I didn’t realize how much I took for granted before the pandemic,” mentioned Harris. “I complained about having to come to rehearsals and do certain things, and this season I want to be able to enjoy it because I’m grateful to be here at all now. I’m grateful to still have the chance to do what I love and spend my time with people who are equally as creative. I have never been so eager to get back into the stage.”

One of the upcoming performances is titled “6 feet apart: The Coronavirus Project.” Costa explained the meaning behind this performance and why it was included in the season.

“This concept grew out of the isolation that both our students and faculty were experiencing once we left campus in Spring 2020,” said Costa. “I wanted to put that honesty onstage and allow our students to heal themselves as well as our audience to grow from our vulnerability. I just felt like I had to do something to let our students respond to what is going on in the world since coronavirus is such a significant reality that affects all aspects of their lives.”

The Dance Performance Project will open the season with a showcase of senior dance concerts on Sept. 28-29 at 7:30 p.m. at the Vonnie Borden Theatre in D Vickers Hall.