Spring Dance Concert Features Guest and Student Choreographers

With summer break and finals growing steadily closer, everyone deserves a break from end-of-semester stress.  Students, faculty and community members alike should come to the Dance Concert (May 4, 8:30 pm and May 5, 8 pm in the LPAC Pearson-Hall Theater) and see what stunning pieces various dance classes have been working on. The Concert features performances by students in Dance Lab, Ensemble and Repertoire classes, and individual performances, in addition to a performance by guest choreographer Kun-Yang Lin’s dance company, Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers.

Kim Arrow, Associate Professor of Dance, is managing the Concert. His work BREAKS, performed by members of his Taiko Repertory class, will open the concert.

“In [BREAKS] I combine contemporary and traditional repertory in a mix of styles in one piece, which I admit is a bit of a cheeky thing to do. But I love the transitions and juxtapositions and contrasts: ergo the title,” says Arrow.

The Concert will include Ballet, Contemporary, Tap, and African-based dance performances. For Professor Arrow, “the most enjoyable part [of the concert] …is watching individual works come together, especially for those which I’ve been able to follow from their inception, such as Molly Murphy’s and Jenny Gao’s.”

Molly Murphy ‘18 will be performing a tap piece, “Neighbors,” which she choreographed herself. She will be accompanied by Wesley Han ‘18 and Francesca Rothell ‘21. Additionally, she is a TA for the tap repertoire class and part of the Taiko Repertory. As Murphy puts it, “it’s going to be fun! And also a marathon, because I’ll be in three numbers with no time to change in between, but it will be fun. This is my last chance to make something at Swarthmore before I graduate…I’ve been in dance concerts every semester as part of a class, and this will be the third time I perform one of my own compositions.”

“Neighbors” is a lighthearted piece about loud, annoying neighbors — perfect for tap dancing, which Murphy has been practicing since she was seven. She was inspired to choreograph the piece by a Philadelphia swing club which frequently plays old jazz songs.

Jenny Gao ’18, a student of Dance Lab II (taught by Kim Arrow) has also choreographed her own piece, a solo entitled “virga” (a natural phenomenon in which massive streaks of rain never reach the ground due to the dryness of air). She was inspired by a Dance Lab assignment which required students to choose an animal to represent; she chose a bear.

“I wouldn’t even call it a bear now, though,” explains Gao. “More like a being or creature that evolves as the piece goes on…as a senior it was very important for me to create something very intimately.”

Gao started in dance at Swarthmore later than most of the department’s students, taking her first class in her sophomore year and her first ballet class this semester.

“I think that’s why I sometimes struggle to put it in choreographic terms, which is both good and bad…A lot of the movements [in the piece] are things you wouldn’t normally do. I was inspired by my training in martial arts, in Beijing opera, and by my performance as Ariel [in this year’s Yellow Stockings’ production of The Tempest].]”

Although both students choreographed their pieces themselves, they worked closely with Professor Arrow, who offered feedback and support. As he says himself, “I am always very proud of the people involved in producing such a thing as a concert with all its challenges and hard work required, not to mention the talent and experience required of the performers and choreographers.  And I’m always amazed at the variety of dance and music styles and traditions and the polyglot movement vocabulary required to pull it off.”

Emilie Hautemont ’20