Student dancers step into the spotlight

Friday night, one of USF’s hidden gems will shine for all to see.

“Judy Genshaft calls the dance program ‘the jewel in her crown,'” Foley said. “This is USF at its best.”

Starting Friday and running through Nov. 5, USF’s School of Theatre and Dance will perform its 2011 Fall Dance Concert.

The concert will showcase a contemporary ballet piece, a theatrical and classical modern piece and a hip-hop modern fusion piece.

Each dance has layers of depth – it tells a story or hones in on a technique.

“My piece (“River of Dreams”) focuses on the rainforest and the preservation of the rainforest,” said Jeanne Travers, a professor of dance at USF. “It is a multimedia piece, I was inspired by the idea of how the Amazonian rainforest supports us globally.”

To achieve the vision of her piece, Travers said she incorporated a lot of lifting and partnering in a theatrical yet athletic way.

“It’s probably one of the most athletic pieces that I have been in (in) a very long time,” said dancer Patrick Casimir, a sophomore majoring in dance. “This piece provides a lot of physicality.”

The last piece of the night focuses on reflexive movement. Guest artist Jennifer Archibald merges contemporary modern dance with hip-hop in her piece titled “Reflex,” which features 13 dancers who are connected throughout the performance.

“‘Reflex’ is this high-energy, extraordinary movement piece,” Travers said. “It is very entertaining.”

Julien Jabre, a DJ, produced House music for the piece to accompany the movement.

Andrew Carroll, a professor of dance and a choreographer for the Fall Dance Concert, said he believes nothing beats the human interaction associated with a live dance performance in such a technologically dependent age.

“When you sit on the computer, generally you’re alone,” he said. “But there is something to be said for when you attend live events with other people and the audience gasps. We need these emotions to stay human. Each event that happens is unique.”

Dancer Cathryn Lacy, a senior majoring in dance, said students of all majors will enjoy the concert.

“It is an affordable and fun thing for other majors to come see at USF,” Lacy said. “It brings a lot more diversity to the other events that go on on campus.”

The Fall Dance Concert consists of over 40 student performers from the School of Theatre and Dance. The performers were chosen through rigorous mass auditions and have been preparing for about 10 weeks.

Lacy and Casimir both auditioned for the concert to better their professional experience and skills. The concert often acts as an evolutionary event in the performers’ careers.

Foley said the dancers in his piece, titled “Lies Like Truth,” had really “risen to the challenge.” He envisioned a piece about breakups that he thinks morphed into a Sept. 11 anniversary piece, with an emphasis on human tragedy.

“I think images of Sept. 11 crept in because of all these images of people falling and putting their hands into the air,” he said. “Originally, there was this image of a breakup in a relationship, but then there was this tie into what was happening on the anniversary of Sept. 11. I started thinking, ‘Oh my God, did I make a 9/11 piece? Did I put on their shoulders something really big?'”

The Nov. 3 performance will mark the school’s annual “Day of Dance,” which will feature choreographies from schools around the state, according to a press release.

Travers said the pieces are designed so that audiences walk away with an appreciation for dance.

“Movement is one of the oldest art forms in the world,” she said. “This is such a wonderfully enriching cultural experience for very reasonable prices. Live entertainment is a privilege.”

The USF Fall Dance Concert is in Theater I on Oct. 28-29 and Nov. 3-5 at 8 p.m. There is a 3 p.m. matinee on Oct. 30. Tickets for students are $10 the day of the event and $15 for the general public.