By Dagny Xinyue Lu ‘15
The annual Pomona-Scripps fall dance concert, “In The Works,” will take place this coming weekend. The show times are Thursday, Dec. 6 and Friday, Dec. 7 at 8:00 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 8 at both 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. in the Pendleton Dance Studio at Pomona College. Tickets are priced at $5 and are available at the door.
The concert will feature dance works choreographed and performed by students. “This performance is the first showing of senior theses in dance. It gives seniors, as well as underclass majors and minors, a chance to try out their work in a more informal setting and get feedback from their peers and faculty so they can prepare for their performances in Seaver Theater in the spring,” said Laurie Cameron, Associate Professor of Dance at Pomona College and one of the faculty directors for the concert this year.
Professor Cameron has been involved in the concert for twenty years. “What always stands out to me is the variety of styles that are represented, and, even more important, the range of students involved. Some are relatively inexperienced and make huge strides as performers in such a short period of time; some with more experience find something new in their dancing, ” said Cameron.
“This concert is an amazing collaboration of a great number of people. Over fifty dancers are performing in eleven choreographers’ works. The lighting is designed by students and all tech duties are performed by students. The wonderful faculty and staff of the Scripps and Pomona dance departments handle logistics and provide immense support,” said Emily Simmons (SC ’14), double majoring in psychology and dance and one of the choreographers for the concert.
Simmons’ dance piece is titled Cyclosomnia, a word she created combining the prefix of cyclo- and the suffix –somnia to reflect the cyclical nature of the stages of sleep. “I used the stages of sleep and their patterns during typical sleep to shape the movement and structure of the choreography. I also delve into common dream motifs such as disorientation, death, flying, and nudity,” said Simmons.
This is Simmons’ third year being involved in “In The Works” and her first year participating as a choreographer. “Participating in a dance concert at the Claremont Colleges is a great way to make lasting connections. The time and sweat put into a piece bonds people in a unique and gratifying way,” said Simmons.
Samantha Hill, a junior with an applied mathematics major and dance minor at Pomona College will be presenting her choreography piece that explores different aspects of dreams at the concert. “I want to invite the audience to join my dancers for a short time in inhabiting this other, nonsensical world where the rules are different, emotions are heightened, and the only escape is through waking up,” said Hill.
Most choreographers began their creative process at the very beginning of the semester. “My process began with breaking down what dreams mean to people,” said Hill. “I asked my friends, my acquaintances, and my dancers: what do you think of when I say ‘dream’? I used people’s experiences as jumping-off points to create movements. My dancers have been wonderful about bringing their own strengths and creativity into the process.”
Auditions were held on the first Friday of the semester, and weekly rehearsals began shortly after. “Auditions are open to all levels of dancers, but to be in the concert you have to be currently taking a technique class. Picking dancers is entirely up to choreographers,” said Simmons.
Amelia Bishop (PZ ’16) will perform in two different dance pieces at the concert. “I love being a part of the creative process. The dancers work side by side with the choreographers to figure out the best way to put ideas into physical forms, ” said Bishop.
Before taking the stage at the concert, the choreographers showcase their works-in-progress to faculty members from the Scripps and Pomona dance departments twice at different times of the semester and receive critiques and suggestions.
“The creative process of this work was a cycle of production and destruction. The dance has taken many different forms throughout the semester and has been reworked and revised repeatedly,” said Simmons.
Hill finds the entire experience to be rewarding. “I have had the chance to re-think and vastly expand my approach to choreography. Everyone involved in the concert has been working extremely hard, and I hope that people come to the concert to see what we have created for you!” said Hill.