Dancers in white button up blouses and jeans in different shades of blue strutted from sides of the stage to make their way to a rectangular plate of wood. Alternating between rows, students tapped a contemporary piece to Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love,” soon followed by echoes of bongos. Bodies crawled from the left and right wings of the stage as they led movements with their hips while African-Haitian rhythms filled McKenna Theatre.
After three months of preparation, SF State’s Passion Footprints: New Moves Student Choreography Showcase had it’s opening performance Thursday, December 5, where eight student choreographers were given the opportunity to share their dance pieces inspired by their own lives and themes of grief, abuse, political satire, self-acceptance, autism and music culture of San Francisco.
“This showcase is special because each choreographer brought some part of their life and created a piece of art,” Keishaun Burroughs said. “Some showed their vulnerability, some their life experiences, and some were just inspired by everyday things.”
For Burroughs and other students it was their first time performing in a dance showcase, being able to take part in the creative process and show off their talents. Upperclassmen were able to use the skills they’ve learned over the years and place them into art.
“The passions footprints showcase was a chance for the choreographers to share a part of themselves through dance,” said Mira Rose, first time performer in the showcase and transfer student. “I enjoyed being a part of the choreographic process, and seeing how everything came together. I liked being around the intense energy that everyone put out.”
Lucia Padilla, third year dance major and choreographer for a piece called “Embracing Damage,” was inspired by the art of kintsugi, a Japanese craft where broken pottery is repaired with liquid gold. She used her choreography to express sexual assault and overcoming the experience.
Others like Maria Donjacour, a senior dance major and choreographer of “The Groove” focused their movements on everyday experiences within San Francisco music culture. As an ode to the SF rock scene, dancers in vibrant patterned tops and sequenced bottoms jumped with chaotic energy, representing a mosh pit experience.
“Though I am not actually on stage, showing my work feels much more vulnerable than being the performer,” said Donjacour “All my artistic decisions and ideas are laid out for everyone to see and since I am not the one doing it, I have no control.”
New Moves has been an annual production since Fall 2008 by SF State’s School of Music and Dance and the Dance Program’s mainstage production for the fall semester. The spring semester mainstage concert involves faculty and guest choreography performed by the students in DANC 399 University Dance Theatre.
The annual performance ran from Dec 5-7 and Dec 8 in SF State’s McKenna Theatre located in the Creative Arts Building where there were about eight students who created choreography per showcase with about 25-40 performers.
The Passion Footprints: New Moves Student Choreography Showcase is an advanced level three choreography and composition class where students are able to present their final projects alongside their cast members.
The showcase and similar productions are key parts of the dance training and experience for dance majors and minors, in order for them to apply what they have learned in technique,composition, academics and lab courses.
“It ultimately prepares them for post-graduation in the professional field of dance performance, choreography and other aspects of dance-related careers such as teaching, directorship, production, etc,”said Ray Tadio, faculty of SF State’s School of Dance and showcase director.
Auditions and rehearsals for the showcase are a semester long process, but student choreographers were able to incorporate their themes, narratives, and actual choreography (to an extent) from their previous composition/choreography classes.
Throughout this semester numerous hours were put into creating the showcase in which choreographers auditioned their cast members the first two weeks of the fall semester. Two to four hour weekly rehearsals and weekly showings of the work-in-progress occurs until two weeks before Thanksgiving Break.
“One of the amazing aspects of this show is that each year we get a new crop of choreographers that bring whole new ideas to the show,” said Patricia Tomita, assistant student director for the showcase. “I think that the new dancers bring their own style and background that makes every year different from the past.”