Weekend offers two student dance shows


Dance Theatre of Santa performs its annual student-choreographed production, “Room to Dance,” on Friday and Saturday at the Santa Fe College Fine Arts Hall.

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Published: Thursday, May 29, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 28, 2014 at 11:58 a.m.

This weekend offers two student dance productions:

On Friday and Saturday, Dance Theatre of Santa Fe mounts “Room to Dance,” its annual student-choreographed production.

Then on Sunday at 6 p.m., Pofahl Studios presents its 58th recital, “Beauty and the Beast” at the Phillips Center.

‘Room to Dance’

Both performances of “Room to Dance” begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Santa Fe College Fine Arts Hall, where tickets are available in advance or at the door.

“Room” tickets are $15 for orchestra, $12 for the balcony, $9 for UF students, seniors and children 12 and young, and are free for Santa Fe students and employees.

“I love the variety of this show,” says Santa Fe dance department professor Sarah Harkness-Sebastian.

Thirteen total pieces fill “Room to Dance,” ranging from musical theater and contemporary to Latin dance to hip-hop.

“It’s not a long show — it’s about an hour and 15 minutes with intermission — but there are a lot of pieces with a lot of range.”

Participating student choreographers wrote choreographic proposals, held auditions, rehearsed potential works and then presented the works-in-progress to faculty, who selected pieces determined most ready for the public stage.

“That’s all phase one,” says Harkness-Sebastian, “and that’s the real meat of what ‘Room’ is all about. Cultivating an idea and working to communicating it clearly from their initial choreographic proposals to the adjudication.”

“What I call phase two, that’s a wonderful bonus,” she adds. “It’s a whole other lesson, that of how to take a complete work from the studio to the stage. The students meet with the lighting designer, finalize costumes and complete any last-minute music editing.”

“What most excites me about ‘Room to Dance’ is seeing young artists starting to seriously take on the craft of making dances,” Harkness-Sebastian continues. “To learn to use fellow dancers’ bodies to communicate an idea, to making what was once a spark of imagination materialize into something they can create and share with an audience — that’s a very important moment for an artist.”

Harkness-Sebastian notes pieces from “We Rise,” a study by Isabel Teller and Victoria Haigh on the women’s liberation movement in 1940s America, to “Mambo Lupita!” choreographed by Colombian exchange student Sara Lopez, and “Sandbox” by Jennifer Gerber and Chris Miller.

“‘Sandbox’ is about getting in the dirt and playing,” says Harkness-Sebastian. “In the literal sense of gardening, but also the idea of digging down into an idea, of creating something and molding it.”

‘Beauty and the Beast’

While Dance Theatre of Santa Fe participants are primarily young adults, the performing students of Pofahl Studios are children and teenagers.

Pofahl’s “Beauty and the Beast” tickets are $10 through the Phillips Center box office, on site or online, in advance or at the door.

More than 250 students perform ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary and hip-hop.

Graduating seniors are Amy Emerson as Belle, Chelsea Newmans as Enchantress, Geneva Swanson as the Rose, Diamond Bivens as Lumiere Emily Sheehan as Fifi and Ana Kondratiev as Cogsworth.

Pofahl Studios co-owner Judy Skinner notes that a number of students have been accepted to and will attend prestigious pre-professional programs this summer.

Sarah Abernethy is accepted to School of American Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. Karina Barbazuk is accepted to Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and Orlando Ballet School. Willow Chiari, Jaqueline Kessler and Stephon Johnson are accepted to Florida State University Dance Workshop — Kessler is also accepted to Orlando Ballet School and the Joffrey Ballet School.

Johnson, who dances the role of Prince/Beast in the recital, is also accepted to Dallas Black Dance Theatre.

Kennedy Monroe will attend Milwaukee Ballet; Rachel Ridley will attend Miami City Ballet; Lillian Withers will attend Orlando Ballet School and Joffrey Ballet School’s New York City and San Francisco programs.

Grace Thompson is accepted to American Ballet Theatre and LINES Ballet student programs; Delaney Ruth also will attend LINES Ballet.

“Delaney was at LINES last year,” says Skinner. “She can hardly wait. She was at North Carolina School of the Arts the full year before that and really missed the performing opportunities. Contemporary is her love, so she’s headed in the right direction!”

Emily Davis will dance with Suzanne Farrell Ballet at the Kennedy Center.

“Emily has been with Boston Ballet School the entire school year,” says Skinner. “She comes homes on breaks for classes. She is able to participate in an IB program there.”

Julianna Greer, Marianna Mancuso and Victor Mancuso will study at Steps on Broadway in New York City.

Skinner notes that Girl Scout Troop 733 will help backstage with the recital, which also features an entertaining ‘dads dance’ of about 40 fathers.

“Beauty and the Beast” concludes with the announcement of the upcoming school year’s scholarship recipients.

Pofahl Studios is the official school of Dance Alive National Ballet, Gainesville’s professional ballet company. Many of Pofahl’s faculty are company members and artistic staff of Dance Alive.

Sarah Ingley can be reached at mazedance@gmail.com.

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