Comedians, Scientists, Choreographers—Oh my!


This year’s Winter Dance Concert, directed by Miryam Moutillet, is entitled “Minds of Interest.”

The show’s choreography is inspired by the masterpieces of notable artists and creative thinkers.

Faculty choreographers include Director of the Dance Program, Miryam Moutillet, Assistant Director of the Dance, Marcus C. Rogers, and Zumba Dance Instructor, Laurie Cawley.

Student choreographers and dance minors include Jillian Callanan ’16, Megan Wells ’18, Allison Minchoff ‘16, Avery Novitch ’16 and Laura Schad ‘16.

Dancing in the showcase is Dance minor and Mechanical Engineering major, Giorgia Comeau ’16.

“The showcase is celebrating brilliant minds of those before us as well as our own brilliant minds,” Comeau explained.

Famous creative works will be brought to life in this year’s dance concert as performers use choreography and other theatrical practices to interpret the works of pioneers of imagination.

“The show is divided into three sections: the creators, the activists and the scientists,” says Comeau.

She explained that the creator section consists of authors, choreographers, directors and designers, while the scientists’ section will revolve around researchers, surgeons, specific scientists and the like. The last section is the activist, which takes us back to our history and centers around mainly human rights activists.

Some notable figures include author, Virginia Woolf, fashion designer, Coco Chanel, human rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. and scientists, Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking, amongst many others.

In addition to showcasing the brilliant minds of specific people, “Minds of Interest” will also be celebrating our own creativity and imagination.

The Winter Dance Concert will feature a variety of dance styles including ballet, lyrical, jazz, modern, tap and even some step.

“We are going to be showcasing a bunch of different styles and the choreography will be a combination of professional choreography and student choreography. Professors and students are working in tandem to create routines for the concert,” Comeau stated.

“Prior to the concert, all the dance minors who are choreographing for the show have to do extensive research on their topic including a proposal of their routines,” adds Comeau. “Avery is choreographing a piece dedicated to famous African American choreographer and activist, Alvin Ailey, while Megan is creating a lyrical routine featuring the first heart surgeon and Jillian is doing a tap dance inspired by the iconic comedic trio, ‘The Three Stooges.’”

“My dance project, which stars myself, Allison Michoff ’16 and Maddison Stemple-Piatt ’17, honors the great mind of Alvin Ailey, an American modern dance choreographer. He founded one of my favorite dance companies, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. He was one of the major figures responsible for giving people of color a space in the performing arts. With my piece, I hope to honor his creative style and artistic legacy,” explained Novitch.

Schad’s Dance Project is dedicated to theoretical physicist and cosmologist, Stephen Hawking.

Schad explains, “The Great Mind that inspired my piece was Steven Hawking. The music I have chosen is incredibly beautiful and powerful, which easily influenced my movements. My choreography is influenced by ballet, but is more fluid and expressive. I like to incorporate unexpected elements to keep the audience interested and engaged.”

Callanan’s piece, inspired by The Three Stooges, will attempt to capture the comedic spirit of the iconic trio.

“I was inspired by the slapstick comedy of ‘The Three Stooges,’ as well as by the music I chose which is very upbeat and calls for a lot of high energy movements,” Callanan stated.

The concert will serve as a great opportunity to allow all the student choreographers to showcase their own individual and favorite choreographic styles and genres of dance.

“My choreographic style is definitely somewhat a fusion. The majority of the movement comes from classic Horton technique, a style developed my Lester Horton, Ailey’s mentor. Horton technique combines traditional modern dance movements with a different ethnic styles such as African, Caribbean, Japanese and Indian. My piece mixes Ailey’s style of choice with some of my own style. Modern is definitely my favorite style of dance, partly because that is the stye I am trained in. Additionally, the styles, like Horton technique, are incredibly emotive. Whenever I see a modern dance piece, it always makes me feel something powerful.” mentioned Novitch.

Callanan added, “Tap is by far my favorite style of dance because of the challenge that comes with trying to tap as fast as you can. There’s something very exhilarating about creating rhythms with your feet. When choreographing tap, I tend to create very fast rhythms because it’s fun to see how fast our feet can go. I also like to incorporate large and humorous gestures whenever possible.”

Schad explained, “My favorite style of dance is lyrical. I like being able to tell a story through movement and utilize music, which resonates with me. My choreography is influenced by ballet, but is more fluid and expressive. I like to incorporate unexpected elements to keep the audience interested and engaged.”

Along with featuring a diverse set of performances and choreography, ‘Minds of Interest’ will also include aspects from theater and dance class, Staging Exploration in Theater in Dance; a dually taught class between Winter Dance Concert director, Moutillet and Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies, Charles Batson.

‘Minds of Interest’ will be a fusion between dance and theatrical practices.

The show will contain layers of interpretation open to the audience of the mind and what it means to be a creator.

Novitch mentioned, “I hope people will understand all the incredible progress that was made in science, art and activism in the twentieth century. I want people who see my choreography to understand how amazing Alvin Ailey was, as an individual who used art to truly better the creative community and bring equality. I wish that if he could watch my piece, he would feel very proud of his work.”

Callanan added, “Through my piece, I hope audiences realize that comedians are great minds in their own right. While several pieces deal with scientists, writers and inventors, I want viewers to stop and think about comedic geniuses, as well.”

Schad stated, “I hope audiences will take the time to reflect on the grand scale nature of the world in relation to human existence. I hope my piece is able to evoke feelings of personal reflection and inspire people to learn more about Steven Hawking and his remarkable contributions to science.”

Union’s annual Winter Dance Concert will be premiering Wednesday, March 2 at 7:30 p.m. in Yulman Theater. The show will run through Saturday, March 5 with a 2:00 p.m. matinee and 7:30 p.m. evening performance.

Tickets for the 2016 Winter Dance Concert, “Minds of Interest” will be available on Wednesday, Feb. 17 in Yulman Theater. General admission is $10, but $7 for students and Union alumni with a Union ID, as well as senior citizens. For reservations call 518-388-6545.


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