By ABIGAIL WHITTINGTON
The whispers of the audience hushed as four ghostly figures took their place on the dark stage. The lights on the stage came on and the four figures became four women dressed in flowing white gowns. They walked staggered from the front of the stage to the back of the stage, swishing their gowns with occasional instances of performative writhing pain. Then the music began and the women performed a contemporary dance piece.
This performance, titled Frayed, was part of the University of Mary Washington Faculty and Student Dance Concert that took place this past Saturday and Sunday in Dodd Auditorium. The concert, which was themed Emerging Voices, featured 12 performances choreographed by students and faculty and performed by students.
Some of these performances included: Black Widow’s Lullaby, a seductive dance about five female spiders catching their male prey; Excursion to India, a mashup of song and dance that showed a variety of dances in India; Knowing Your Ipsum, a dance choreographed to “Self”, an original play written by Covenant Babatunde about a girl who struggles with her inner self and her self-image; and many more.
Some students were thrilled with the range of dances. “I thought the more technical pieces were impressive and well-spaced out with the groove pieces,” said junior, Ryan Ford.
However, some students felt there wasn’t enough variety in the show. “I do wish there was more variety in the types of dances people would do. Not just hip-hop and modern but there are so many different styles of dance that I think would be really great to showcase at UMW,” said senior, Andrea Ville
Students and faculty had been working on the pieces for the concert for at least a semester. A few performances were a year in the making as some dances had the opportunity to attend the American College Dance Association Conference.
In one case, a dancer learned a full routine in a just a few days. “Originally I wasn’t supposed to be in the show but one of the girls had unforeseen circumstances,” said junior Christine Ayad who filled in for junior Michayla Rice during Saturday’s performance of Black Widow’s Lullaby. “My roommate, who was also in the piece, taught me all the choreography over a few days during the week leading up to the show. We drilled it together multiple times until I felt comfortable.”
After a short intermission, there was a brief announcement by Friends of Dance, an organization that seeks to join together professional dancers, individuals, students and local studios in the greater Fredericksburg area. Five dancers were awarded scholarships in dance that night in hopes of encouraging them to continue their dance education and build the dance community at UMW.
“I would really love to see the dance department, which is very small currently, continue to grow and develop,” said junior Erynn Sendrick, student choreographer of the dance, Comes and Goes. “I think the dance community is very present and looking for more support, so performances like this are a great way to show the UMW community and the Fredericksburg area what we’re creating here at Mary Wash.”