Throwback Thursday: Young Choreographers Series Offers Diverse Dances and Diverse Influences (1998)

The DeSales Dance Department is hosting its annual Emerging Choreographers Concert, which will open on Friday, Nov. 6 in the Labuda Center for Performing Arts. The concert, which involves several dances performed and choreographed by DeSales dance majors, has been providing students with a platform to display their talents for years. The concert, which was originally titled the Young Choreographers Series (YCS), was also held nearly 17 years ago in the Labuda Center as well. The Minstrel chose to republish a feature on the YCS from 1998 as part of its biweekly Throwback Thursday series.

This article was originally published in Issue 4, Thirty-third Year of The Minstrel (November 6, 1998). The full text has been re-published and edited only for grammar and punctuation.

YCS Offers Diverse Dances and Diverse Influences

By Sarah Haas
Arts Editor

On Friday, October 30, 1998, at 8 pm on the Arena Stage at the Labuda Center for Performing Arts, the Young Choreographers Series showcased seven original and newly developed compositions, choreographed by student members of Allentown College’s Department of Performing and Fine Arts.

The extraordinarily diverse dances ranged in style from contemporary pointe to modern dance, often combining these and other elements and styles.

Junior dance major Kristen A. Bascelli conceived and choreographed a modern dance entitled “Portraits of Sisterhood,” which featured Kimberly Anne Fekete, Laura Fetterman and Shannon N. Flynn. Bascelli’s dance communicated the difficulty of being independent of, yet equally loyal to the often inexplicable bond of sisterhood. The simple, but playful and illuminative costumes designed, and in part constructed by Bascelli furthered her sisterhood theme.

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Members of Allentown College’s Dance Department perform “Eternal Equinox,” a dance by senior Andrea Eble. (From Left to Right: Erin Haney, Rebecca Hermann, Katie Skettino, Heather Hall, Crystal Smith, Kimberly Fekete, Joanna Frazer.) Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kemmerer.

“Tales of Destined Moons,” a dramatic modern dance choreographed by senior dance major Heather Hall, presented the stories and struggles of Greek characters, Eurydice (Andrea L. Elbe), Helen (Melissa K. Schad), Phaedra (Kelly Calpin), and Electra (Jeanmarie E. Werner). Hall also utilized the poetry of H.D. and the music of Dead Can Dance to aid in the evolution of the sorrowful tales of these women. Werner was especially stoic and performed with a pervasively piercing quality.

Senior dance major Kelly S. Marks created “Muffled Screams of Saccharine Excess,” the title of which more than adequately evidences the mood of Marks’s modern piece, which featured the characters of a Narrator (Jodi Izinicki), Obsession (Lysa Dell’Alba), Lust (Stephanie Howell), Unrequited Love (Lisa Marie Sofalaride) and Romantically Fulfilled Love (Allison D. Schneider). Marks’s choice of costumes and music, which included selections from Alanis Morrisette, Front 242 and Sarah McLachlan, could not have better mirrored Marks’s title and theme.

The choreography, costumes and music communicated so much that the recitation of Marks’s original poetry seemed somewhat redundant.

“Rowing,” a modern dance theater work choreographed by senior dance major Joanna Fraser, was inspired largely by the work of spiritually introspective poet Anne Sexton and featured three entirely black clad dancers: Melissa Rosolen, Melissa K. Schad and Kelly Calpin. Fraser’s choice of muted and abstract costumes and props allowed her choreography and Sexton’s poetry, recited by the dancers, to reach new heights. The piano accompinament of George Winston also further propelled the depth of Fraser’s desired effect.

Senior dance major Andrea L. Elble choreographed the contemporary pointe work “Eternal Equinox” featuring Kimberly Anne Fekete, Joanna Fraser, Heather Hall, Erin E. Haney, Rebecca Hermann, Katie Skettino and Crystal Lauren Smith. Eble’s dance abstractly enlivened each of the four seasons and brilliantly expanded the bounds of traditional pointe worke. The bright costumes and countenances of the dancers, in addition to Eble’s choice of music (Wes Montgomery Cirque du Soleil) aided in the development of this enjoyable creation. The jazzy yellow-clad Crystal Lauren Smith was notably endearing.

The 2015 Emerging Choreographers Concert opens Friday, Nov. 6.
The 2015 Emerging Choreographers Concert opens Friday, Nov. 6.

“Walls,” choreographed by senior dance and English major Jennifer Ascosi is a modern dance inspired by Charlotte Perkins Gillman’s intensely psychological short storey “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Ascosi’s piece offered an interestinginterpretation of the oppression of women, featuring Jeanmarie E. Werner as the narrator, Lysa Dell’Alba, Andrea Eble and Kelly S. Marks as the wallpaper, and Kristen A. Bascelli as a woman representative of the perpetuation and psychological struggle of women. Ascosi adapted portions of Gillman’s text, which was pre-recorded and interspersed throughout the performance.

Katie Skettino’s “the mad may dream…” was the only dance in the Young Choreographers Series to be created and choreographed by a sophomore dance major.

Skettino presented a modern interpretation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland, featuring Rebecca Hermann (Alice), Joanna Fraser (Queen of Hearts), Lisa Marie Sofalarides (King of Hearts), Luara Fetterman (White Rabbit), Erin E. Haney (Mad Hatter), Kristen A. Bascelli (Knave of Hearts), and Shannon N. Flynn, Jamie Lin Haak and Denise Althouse as Cards.

Madness was rampant throughout the performance and the audience is left wondering where to find the line between reality and a dream. The musice of Sinead O’Connor, Pink Floyd and the London Philharmonic Orchestra dovetailed admirably with Skettino’s choreographic choices.

David Robert Laro served as Production Stage Manager, and his assistants included Jamie Snyder, Joanna Fraser and Lysa Dell’Alba. Lighting was designed and executed for each of the performances by Michael L. Cristaldi.

The Young Choreographers Series is the primary venue by which the AC dance majors create and produce thier art.

Though the entire concert is under the supervision of the dance faculty, the responsibility for choreographing, managing, producing and performing falls solely on the dancers themselves.

One of the pieces from the Young Choreographers Series is traditionally chosen by the dance faculty to appear in the spring semester Dance Ensemble.

Visiting dance student Rachel Aston said “I really loved the performance. My favorite dance was ‘the mad may dream…’.”

Senior theater major Alexie Mae Gilmore agreed stating that “the mad may dream…” was “especially well conceived.”

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