Katherine Clifford ’14 interviews performers for the Spring Senior Thesis Dance Concert

The Spring Senior Thesis Dance Concert will be on Thursday, April 5 through Saturday, April 7, 2012*, and will include new works by the senior dance majors. Come support the seniors and the culmination of all the incredible work that went into their theses. Katherine Clifford ’14 asks each performer about their individual theses.

Choreography by Naadu Bentsi-Enchill ’12, James Gardella ’12, Nik Owens ’12, and Hsiao-Tung Huang ’12 will be performed Thursday, April 5 through Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 8pm in the Patricelli ’92 Theater.

Left to right: Naadu Bentsi-Enchill, James Gardella, Nik Owens, Hsiao-Tung Huang, Elena Georgieva.

*Elena Georgieva’s Interactive Presentation Bridging Science and Dance will be on Friday, April 20, 2012 at 6pm in the Bessie Schönberg Dance Studio, 247 Pine Street.

Here’s what the seniors had to say about their theses:


“My piece explores the different levels of existence as a person, body, and mover in space. It’s a very internal dance that concludes my movement research on audience perception and choreographer relationships.”

James Gardella:

“My thesis addresses the Yoga Sutras, which is the foundational text of the philosophy of yoga, one of six major schools of thought in Indian philosophy. I critique the Sutras’ assertion that mental stillness is a prerequisite to self-realization and freedom. In the fall I created still mystery, a site specific work performed by an ensemble of five dancers in the CFA lawn. Once the performance ended, viewers were left unexpectedly with a resounding quiet, the very thing my research rejected. My upcoming spring piece embraces the unknown and accepts stillness as a valid, and potential, state of being. I return to the theater to perform a deeply personal and also highly conceptual solo titled Indelible. Indelible may be viewed as a dance of reclamation, and/or a metaphor for the philosophy of yoga itself, as I yearn for freedom through movement.”

Nik Owens:

“I am interested in looking at how behavior is reflected through dance performance and translated to and by an audience. This thesis topic originates from an interest in and hyper-awareness of how I change my behavior to match whatever context I’m placed in. For example, when I’m with my friends I’m very energetic, charismatic, loud and funny, where as when I’m at work I’m more quiet, reserved, mature, and knowledgeable. Now I’m sure this is the case for a lot of people, but the extent to which I shift is considerably more drastic than others in my opinion. So I wanted to investigate this phenomena and I decided to use dance performance as a proxy.

Additionally, since the link between dance performance and behavior can be interpreted in so many different ways, I chose to look at this link through a pedagogical framework; meaning that I’m investigating how social mores and values are established and taught through dance performance and then later translated into behavioral patterns that are context specific. I’ve chosen three (really four) distinct areas of dance performance that vary from each other. The first is looking at Nigerian Yoruba and Cuban Santeria ritual dance performance, particularly their dances that praise their gods. The second is Vogue dance in the ballroom scene of Harlem, New York during the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s and the role that vogue battles play in establishing social framework and hierarchy at the ballrooms. Lastly I will be looking at how Merce Cunningham and his use of chance procedures on the proscenium stage evoke new notions and behavioral relationships with modern dance amongst the audience members that have watched his work.

For the final chapter of my thesis I will investigate my own two-semesters worth of choreography, culminating in two different pieces, and how these choreographic processes have helped to give me insight into answering the question: how is behavior reflected through dance performance and translated to and by an audience?”

Hsiao-Tung Huang:

“My thesis is on Pina Bausch and Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, her dance theater company in Wuppertal, Germany. I am most interested in how history and culture (she grew up in postwar [West] Germany) influenced her as a person as well as how these influences are reflected in her choreographic works. My piece is a personal experience in developing a deeper knowledge of Bausch’s creative process as well as understanding Bausch as a dancer and choreographer.”

Elena Georgieva:

“While historically science and dance have been indelible from our understanding of the world, nowadays they seem to be more dichotomized than ever. To address this misconception, in my thesis I study how dance and science inform each other in the fields of education, research, and performance to make something called science choreography, a novel term describing the embodied connection between the two. In my research process I look mostly at all science-dance intermediary work that has emerged in the last 20 years and I explore some of it through movement. Thus I hope to better understand what science choreography is and how it works, with which I am aiming to define the status quo of the field and lay out a base for future research. In addition, by stressing the importance of developing this emerging field, with my own work I hope to popularize the concept of science choreography among the broader audience.”

Come see the dance performances, Thursday, April 5 through Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 8pm in the Patricelli ’92 Theater; and Friday, April 20 at 6pm in the Bessie Schönberg Dance Studio, 247 Pine Street.

1 thought on “Katherine Clifford ’14 interviews performers for the Spring Senior Thesis Dance Concert”

  1. For James Gardella…. 🙂

    I would love to see some of your work – it sounds fascinating and exhilarating.

    How did you feel bathed in the quiet that your ‘work had rejected’ and have you finished the critique to draw your conclusion yet?

    Best wishes with studies, dance and yoga,

    Matt 🙂

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