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No Apologies Necessary: Sharp Show Explores Student Choreography

Chrysta Brown
Every year the senior dance majors are given the opportunity to produce their own dance performance in the Sharp Studio in the Owen Fine Arts Center. This year, I’m part of that group, and we chose to call our show No Apologies Necessary. The title is based on a quote by Thoreau: “I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” It serves as a reminder for us to embrace our imperfections and insecurities and meet our futures boldly and without apology. However, if you happen to stop by the Sharp Studio (Room B100) in the basement of the Owen Fine Arts Center for a performance -- Saturday, December 5 at 8:00 p.m. or Sunday, December 6 at 2:00 or 7:00 p.m. -- you’ll see the class of 2010 didn’t wait to be unapologetic.

I realize it’s ironic that the unapologetic topic of my piece is a death row inmate, since in most societies, those sentenced to death have the most to apologize for. The piece is called “P-17126” and it is from the point of view of an inmate at a random moment in the last seven days of his life. Chances are audiences won’t realize that my piece’s inspiration lies deep within the fences of America’s criminal justice system. They will only recognize the feelings of desperation, shame and loneliness. I know because I felt that way while choreographing. I could have talked out my problems and created something about the joys of living, but choreographing was easier than talking. People often tell me about how wonderful it is to wear your heart on your sleeve and let the world know how you’re feeling. Personally speaking, I have yet to experience the joys of vulnerability and would be quite content to keep my business as far away from the proverbial “front street” as possible. So do I need to do some soul searching and learn to trust society? Maybe. I’ve been described as stoic. I don’t know, I don’t see how emotional restraint is a bad thing.

Katy Cashin’s piece, “Sometimes Forever,” is a dance in three sections about the three important relationships, familial, friendship, and romantic, that have influenced her life at SMU. It is about the ending and beginning of relationships and the loss of childlike naiveté. “This is just a scary time for transition,” she says about the temptation to put on a brave face and pretend that everything is satisfactory. While Katy used her personal experience as a medium for the universal theme of loss, she was also inspired by Greek art and architecture. The dancers will wear a white glaze on their faces and, by the end of the piece, the glaze will have cracked and lost the appearance of statuesque perfection. The sweeping patterns, the fluid choreography, and the technical virtuosity of the dancers make the dance beautiful. So at the end of the day, the audience sees a juxtaposition of beauty and imperfection. Whether it is interpreted as beauty despite imperfection, or imperfections that create beauty, will depend on the way you feel when you watch it. Katy says that both interpretations are valid. It is not such a bad thing to express yourself or interpret things differently than the person next to you.

In that same vein, Kendall Krammer and Marielle Perrault’s piece is a study of the differences of interpretation. They have created a two-part piece, “Photo Synthesis,” that observes how light affects perception. They did it because Marielle has always wanted to create a piece using tap lights, those battery-powered, button-like lights that you can stick anywhere and tap to turn on and off. Marielle’s choreographic style is a combination of Afro-Caribbean rhythms and athleticism, which is ironic if you know her. She’s 5’11”, pale, and wears flowers in her hair that match her leotard. Kendall’s choreography feels like breathing. It is like a metamorphosis of positions -- a stark contrast to Marielle’s choreography, but the two of them work well together. Because of the abstract nature of the piece, each audience member will walk away with a completely different experience. That is what they wanted. It is a risky piece. The tap lights should appear as cast members in the program since their presence is almost as important as the dancers. Sometimes they fall, or don’t illuminate at the right time, and the piece does not turn out quite as the dancers or choreographers envisioned. It isn’t really a problem as long as the dancers keep dancing.


There are, according to Greek mythology, three types of love: philos, eros, and agape, and Page Leahy has something to say about them all. Her piece, “Unveiled,” is a three-part love story. “It is truly my story being revealed to the audience,” she says. “I’ve never done this before.” Page wants the audience to watch her piece and be reminded of their own experiences with each type of love. Regardless of the outcome, each memory is valuable and important. Society tells us that we cannot express how we are truly feeling. Some ask us how we’re feeling and we say “Good!,” regardless of the truth. A teacher asks us if we can see the difference between A and B and we agree because it is embarrassing to admit that the two look exactly alike. Page has found an honest way to tell how she’s feeling, to talk about love, and to reveal what is in her heart.

Morgana Phlaum’s piece, “Maybe Love - That I Prefer,” is a family affair. The music is a compilation of the talents of her father, who plays the guitar, her boyfriend, SMU cellist Zach Reaves, and her sister, who is speaking a poem written by their grandfather for Morgana. The dance is dedicated to her mother in memory of her grandfather, who passed away in 2006. It is Morgana’s first solo, the first piece that is entirely her vision and execution. Her piece is about life after loss. It speaks of hope and strength. People deal with loss in different ways. Some people eat, run, cry, or talk it out. Morgana chose to dance.

We all did.

After the losses, the breakups, the late rehearsals, the ridiculous tests and awful days; after we’ve rehearsed until midnight, bowed for the last time, pushed the final cart off the dance floor into storage, and washed off the stage makeup; after we’ve spent hours forcing our turnout, getting our legs higher, finding the rhythm only to lose it again, swinging, bouncing, sliding, falling, and rebounding, and after our bodies return to their imperfect selves, the class of 2010 chose to dance and keep dancing. “No one is perfect,” says senior choreographer and dancer Shelby Stanley. “It is our imperfections that make us beautiful dancers and people. It’s the flaws, individuality, and quirks that make us interesting. We should stop apologizing for the things that make us human.”

No Apologies Necessary runs Saturday, December 5 at 8:00 and Sunday, December 6 at 2:00 and 7:00. Seating is free but limited.

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