The Fall Dance Concert exhibits the emotional work of senior dance majors

Senior dance majors choreograph the pieces performed in the Fall Dance Concert (photo by John Irwin).
Senior dance majors choreograph the pieces performed in the Fall Dance Concert (photo by John Irwin).

Nov. 14 marks the first senior-produced dance concert for Mason’s School of Dance, where senior dance majors will debut their own theater pieces that they have spent the past semester creating in the Fall Dance Concert.

The process is similar to what another major may have to do for their senior thesis. Students come in with an idea and have to work on it closely with a member of their faculty. Then, as a student would receive criticism from their peers, mentor, and other interested faculty on their paper, the senior dance major crafts their piece until it culminates into a final performance with a full cast, costume and lighting designs.

“At the beginning of the semester, most of them came in with what they were going to use musically and they all selected a mentor from a member of the faculty,” Shields said.

Using the mentors periodically during the semester, each senior crafted their own personal pieces using their growing dance expertise, their personal knowledge and experience, musical style of their choice, the trust of their peers and constructive criticism from mentoring faculty.

“We set no boundaries for them because by the time they are seniors, they have done it many times,” Shields said. “Thematically when you choreograph a work I don’t think people understand the magnitude. Basically, there is nothing and the senior is just given a “go” so they have to decide, 'what do I want to create?'

The senior dancers have all gone through a process of selecting music, developing choreography and teaching that choreography to their fellow dance majors who have auditioned for their pieces. They must also determine rehearsal time for their own piece and coordinate with lighting and costume designers about their vision for the piece.

“It is an emotional show,” Shields said. “They really went to some deep places and we are thrilled about that.”

Tickets for the Fall Dance Concert are sold at the Center for the Arts Box Office, and are free with a Mason ID on a first come first serve basis. Once free ticket are unavailable, student tickets are $10.  The performances are Nov. 14-16 at 8 p.m. with an additional matinee performance on Nov. 15.

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