March 13, 2018

Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Dance presents Interrobang‽ A Collaborative Senior Dance Thesis Concert

Featuring choreography by Princeton seniors, alumnus Ogemdi Ude, and performance of works by acclaimed choreographers Raja Feather Kelly, Zvi Gotheiner, Ohad Naharin, and Christopher Ralph

The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Dance at Princeton University will present Interrobang‽, a collaborative senior dance thesis concert showcasing new choreography by five seniors in the program, as well as the performance of repertory and new works by guest choreographers, on Thursday, March 29 and Friday, March 30 at 8:00 p.m. and Saturday, March 31 at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. The four performances will take place in the Hearst Dance Theater, located on the Forum level of the Wallace Dance Building at the Lewis Arts complex on the Princeton campus (122 Alexander Street). A prelude to the concert will begin 15 minutes prior to show times on the Plaza at the arts complex and the first piece will start in the Forum and move into the theater. The students will perform existing repertory and new works by acclaimed choreographers Raja Feather Kelly, Zvi Gotheiner, Ohad Naharin, and Christopher Ralph, as well as perform new works by seniors Maia Ezratty, Jacqueline Kopra, Natalie Plonk, India Rogers-Shepp, and a collaboration between senior Selah Hampton and alumnus Ogemdi Ude.

dancers jump in mid air

Seniors in the Program in Dance in rehearsal for their collaborative dance thesis concert. Photo by Justin Goldberg

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 participate in performance opportunities including the annual Dance Festival. The dance certificate is pursued in addition to a student’s major area of study. Interrobang‽ is an opportunity for seniors to collaborate on producing their own choreography and to work with professional choreographers, professional lighting, and professional costume designers to bring their vision to life.

Jessica Chambers, a molecular biology major pursuing a neuroscience certificate, will be performing a solo excerpt from DABKE, choreographed by Zvi Gotheiner and composed by Scott Killian. DABKE premiered at New York Live Arts in May 2012 and was named one of the Top Ten Dance Favorites of 2013 by The New York Times. Translated from Arabic as “stomping of the feet,” Dabke is a traditional Middle-Eastern folk dance often performed at weddings, holidays, and community celebrations.

Liminal, a new work by computer science concentrator Maia Ezratty, aims to choreographically mirror the intensity of closeness between the dancers in the cast just before the moment they leave Princeton. Inspired by the catharsis of dance and the nostalgia of performing for perhaps one of the last times, this work explores the complicated feelings surrounding a liminal space — fear of losing something, yet hope of gaining something else.

Selah Hampton, a chemistry major pursuing a certificate in African American studies, explores “what it means to perform while black.” Drawing inspiration from the experiences of women of color and their interactions with Princeton University, Six black people is a work that concerns racial identification in white spaces and complicates the question of what it is to present black work without preface. The piece was created in collaboration with Princeton alumnus Ogemdi Ude, Class of 2016.

Anna Kimmel, concentrating in the Department of French and Italian and pursuing a certificate in the Program in African Studies, and Anna Pearson, concentrating in anthropology, will be premiering a duet created for them by contemporary choreographer Christopher Ralph.

Inspired by her studies as a psychology concentrator, a new work by Jacqueline Kopra explores internal contradictions, duality, and conflict within the self. Through this investigation of dichotomies, will and inevitability collide, examining external manifestations of internal dynamics and questioning the futility of resolution in the midst of disconnect.

RUN/Off, by Natalie Plonk, is a senior dance thesis work made in conjunction with the requirements for the certificate in environmental studies that explores political, scientific, and social themes of water through abstracted movement. RUN/Off is a site-specific performance set within the architecture of the new Lewis Arts complex, emphasizing the constant and active role water plays in quotidian life. Contributing themes include slow violence, water collection, ecosystems, species interactions, oceanic layers, water protectors, water as a form of violence, water imagery in Buddhist texts, and nostalgic and personal musings about water. This work is the piece in the concert that will include a prelude on the Plaza, move into the Forum for the start of the concert, and bring the audience into the theater.

India Rogers-Shepp, a molecular biology major, has choreographed the piece entitled The Body is Recording. The piece is a study on how violence has interwoven itself into our historic and personal narratives and how this present and past memory affects our movement. The music is a collaboration between Vince di Mura, the Lewis Center’s resident composer and music director, and Rogers-Shepp.

Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs major Cecilia Shang and ecology and evolutionary biology major Ayla Allen will be performing a duet created by Raja Feather Kelly. The women will inhabit a three-parameter model of the physical universe in which all known matter exists. The choreographer states, “I am not my hair, I am not my skin, I am a soul in a 3D dimension.”

The ten seniors noted above are joined by seniors Clark Griffin, an anthropology major; visual arts major Rachel Schwartz; Kristin Johnson, a Near Eastern studies major; and Trent Kowalik, a philosophy major, in a performance of an excerpt from Ohad Naharin‘s Seder (2007), originally created for The Batsheva Ensemble. The seniors have been working on the staging of the piece since the beginning of the fall semester with dancer and choreographer Omri Drumlevich, brought to Princeton University as part of the Schusterman Visiting Israeli Artist Program. The group has been learning repertoire by Naharin and training in ‘Gaga’, the movement language Naharin developed and is now used in dance institutions and companies all over the world. This work will not be included in the Friday night performance.

Professionally designed costumes and lighting for Interrobang‽ are by Mary Jo Mecca and Aaron Copp, respectively.

Tickets are $8 students (Passport to the Arts eligible), $12 seniors; $12 general admission in advance; $17 general admission day of the event. Tickets are available through University Ticketing online, by calling 609-258-9220, or at the door on the night of the performance.

For more information on this event or the Program in Dance visit

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