March 16, 2017

The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Dance presents (Syn)thesis, A Collaborative Senior Dance Thesis Concert

The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Dance will present (Syn)thesis, a collaborative senior dance thesis concert showcasing new choreography by six seniors in the program, as well as the performance of repertory and new works by guest choreographers, on Friday, March 31 at 8:00 p.m. and Saturday, April 1 at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. The three performances will take place in the Berlind Theatre at the McCarter Theatre Center at 91 University Place. Students will perform a work by acclaimed choreographers Adam Barruch and Chelsea Bonosky, premiere new works by Malcolm Low and Brian Reeder, and perform new dances by seniors Paige Shaw, Dana Fesjian, Clare Sherlog, Erin Berl, Lauren Wodarski, and Tiffany Miller.

dance seniors

Seniors in Princeton’s Program in Dance, whose work and performances will be featured in the dance concert (Syn)thesis March 31 and April 1. Photo by Elena Anamos

The dance certificate program requires students to undertake a rigorous course of study that includes courses in modern, contemporary, ballet, experimental, urban, and African dance techniques, as well as choreography, dance theory and history, and performance opportunities including the annual Dance Festival. The dance certificate is in addition to a student’s major area of study. (Syn)thesis is an opportunity for seniors to collaborate on producing their own choreography and to work with professional choreographers, lighting designers, and costume designers to bring their vision to life.

Crystal Yao, a major in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, will be performing a solo excerpt from Belladonna, an evening length duet from longtime collaborators Adam Barruch and Chelsea Bonosky. Loosely based on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story, “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” Belladonna uses Barruch’s signature kinetic gestural language to portray two lovers caught in a retelling of the original sin.

Neuroscience concentrator Emily Avery will perform a solo created in collaboration with Brian Reeder. This original work draws inspiration from the electric, instantaneous communication between neurons, and explores the expansive potential of systems within the brain. Music from the film score of The Neon Demon, composed by Cliff Martinez, inspired the collaborative piece.

Tiffany Miller, a major in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs also pursuing a certificate in Gender and Sexuality Studies, explores what it means to be a woman in the public and private sphere, taking that idea to its extremes in her piece. Fem, inspired by the writings of Judith Butler and Simone de Beauvoir, flirts with ideas of gender, performativity, definition, quotidian femininity, and audience.

Dana Fesjian, an electrical engineering major, has always been interested in how to combine dance and engineering to make an impact. In this untitled piece, the dancers move around platforms that Fesjian built for her electrical engineering thesis, which harvest energy when pressure is put on them. The theme of the interdisciplinary project is “powering the world through dance,” a goal that Fesjian notes she will work towards at Princeton and beyond. Original music for the piece was composed by her sister, Cara Fesjian.

There’s Nothing More Important... is choreographed by Lauren Wodarski, a politics major pursuing a certificate in French. What began as an exploration of how people deal with traumatic events in their lives has led to a piece dedicated to examining, celebrating and lamenting the things people will do to survive, combining her three passions into one. A series of seven vignettes set in Paris at the end of World War II, the piece explores a vast array of choices and moral standpoints by focusing on the sacrifices, priorities, and judgments people make in everyday, mundane moments.

When Dance Happens is a reflection about what it means to be a dancer, choreographed by Clare Sherlog, a major in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Throughout the piece, the dancers explore their personal memories and experiences navigating the dance world, and the audience is made cognizant of dancers’ relationship to their craft. The score is comprised of dancers’ personal dance narratives spoken aloud and is a collaboration between Sherlog, the dancers, and Vince di Mura, the Lewis Center’s resident composer and music director.

Erin Berl’s my sanity slipping away questions how people decide whether to reveal their struggles or avoid disclosure of the problems that plague them, asking the question: Does one risk opening up to others or attempt to stay safe by keeping everything personal a secret? Combining her work as a psychology major with her passion for dance, Berl explores implicit and explicit social support, especially in relation to mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety. The work also investigates what role community plays in helping those going through mental illness or grief.

Going to NYC is an excerpt from Princeton University Ballet’s upcoming premiere of The Great Gatsby ballet in Richardson Auditorium on April 7 and 8. The scene to be presented at (Syn)thesis, choreographed by history major Paige Shaw, features the novel’s main characters of Daisy, Gatsby, Tom, and Jordan, as well as seven New York City dancers, bringing Fitzgerald’s elegant literary world to life. In addition to her choreographic work on this scene, Shaw is also working on directing the hour-long production of The Great Gatsby, set to the live music of composer di Mura.

Malcolm Low’s new work, Stable Freedom, is a dance created for the ten seniors in the Dance Program, exploring how one finds oneself among others, an individual within the masses. The eight seniors noted above are joined by seniors Alex Quetell, a visual arts major, and Naomi Lake, a history major. As the seniors complete their four years at Princeton, the piece asks the questions: How do they take their experiences and go off into the world? How do they begin to make their voices heard? Low also arranged the music, comprised of found sounds and recorded voices from the performers.

Quetell will present his senior thesis, which combines visual art and dance, at performances in late April.

Professionally designed costumes and lighting for (Syn)thesis are by Mary Jo Mecca and Aaron Copp, respectively.

The Berlind Theatre is an accessible venue with access details available at Assistive listening devices are available upon request when attending a performance. Patrons in need of other access accommodations are invited to contact the Lewis Center at 609.258.5262or for assistance at least two weeks prior to the selected performance.

Tickets for (Syn)thesis are $12 general/$11 students and seniors when purchased in advance; $17 general/$15 students and seniors when purchased day of the performance. They are available through the McCarter box office at 609.258.2787, online at , at the Frist Campus Center Ticket Office, or at the theater prior to each performance.

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Steve Runk
Director of Communications