Fall Dance Fest 2020, a showcase of three performances presented by the university’s Department of Dance, concludes today, Oct. 17, with a 2 p.m. performance.
Tickets are free and can be reserved by going to http://radford.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_eFAQynVViI5gKwJ
Dance Fest features student dancers within the program performing compositions created by dance professors. This year’s event marked the first time that the performances have been streamed online rather than performed for a live audience. It will also feature two senior student choreographers performing their own solos as part of the lineup.
Associate Professor Amy VanKirk has reworked a piece she initially developed in 2017 titled “Fragmentation 119.3” To accommodate coronavirus guidelines, she crafted the performance as a trio so that dancers could move in a column within 10-foot squares and never cross paths. The performance contains three very different musical pieces that are purposefully broken down and put back together.
“I thought that being fragmented and disjointed would be relevant to the way we’ve all had to distance in recent months,” VanKirk said.
Assistant Professor Ji-Eun Lee is debuting a new piece titled “An Old Story” that features thirteen dancers in a dance-theatre style performance. Lee said the dance contains abstract themes about destiny and the circle of life. Hers is a lengthy piece, some 20 minutes long.The performance is her first attempt in the genre of dance-theatre, which is a form of dance that can incorporate speaking, singing, chanting, props, costumes, sets and other elements traditionally thought of as components of theatre.
Professor Inessa Plekahanova is showcasing a classical ballet piece. This semester Plekhanova is teaching a repertoire class with six students, so she decided to bring them into the fold for this performance. Her students will present the world-famous “Friends Dance” from “Giselle,” the classic French ballet.
Department Chair James Robey is debuting a new, modern dance titled “Careless Whisper on the Trombone.” “The focus I was working on with the dancers was on exploring the challenges of communication and connection from a distance,” said Robey. The music features soundbites of conversations that students have had with one another through Zoom. Robey asked the students to record themselves having freeform conversations on Zoom that were submitted for use in the soundtrack.
The move to show Fall Dance Fest 2020 online was solely for safety purposes during the pandemic. Professors and students alike have been working to keep their performances safe. Preparations for the event have presented interesting challenges for those involved. Plekhanova said that it will be strange for dancers to have on masks during her ballet performance. “In ballet, it is important for audiences to see the performer’s faces to communicate the inspiration behind their moves. It will be a little weird, but hopefully people will understand,” she said.
Traditionally, Fall Dance Fest has been choreographed by faculty members, but this year two seniors, Reagan Mihailof and Alexa Austin, will also be showcasing their own works. The decision was made to include them since the Student Choreography Showcase was canceled during the spring semester when the university shut down amid the initial outbreak of the pandemic.