Open for interpretation

Senior dance students perform in showcase

By Erin Grogan | 4/12/15 10:07pm

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Grand Valley State University Senior Dancers Ruben Hanohane, Michelle Strebeck, Bre Dean, Tori Steven, and Mia Barbatamo January 22, 2015. With makeup by Savannah Smith.

by Darren Breen / Grand Valley Lanthorn

This weekend, five Grand Valley State University seniors majoring in dance will showcase their individual journeys in this semester’s senior dance concert. This semester’s concert, titled "Disconnect," is part of their senior project and will focus on the differences between the participating seniors.

The name "Disconnect" is symbolic of all five seniors – Ruben Hanohano, Briana Dean, Tori Stevens, Michelle Strebeck and Mia Barbatano. It symbolizes how the GVSU dance program has brought together their different personalities and training backgrounds.

Hanohano is majoring in dance, broadcasting and advertising. He said that one of the main goals of the project was to prepare the seniors for their job searches after graduation.

“This is a disconnect from what we’ve been so used to,” Hanohano said. “These four years we’ve been here and we’ve gotten so used to it and we’ve made a family unit. Now it’s time for us to disconnect from the department and from each other and to find our own ways.”

Each of the seniors was required to produce two different dances over the course of the semester. One of these dances is a choreographed dance featuring others from the department, chosen by each senior through an audition process. They also had to craft a solo dance.

“It’s different from what you see on TV – that’s dancing for the sake of dancing,” Hanohano said. “This is dancing for the sake of telling a story, and we want our audience to feel it – to feel emotionally involved and just to be interested. Even if they don’t know what it’s supposed to mean, as long as it makes them think or makes them feel something, then we’ve done our jobs.”

Hanohano’s choreographed dance features nine dance majors from GVSU and is named "Obliviate" after the spell used in Harry Potter that rids someone of their memory. To create this dance, he combined movement phrases that remind him of periods of his life that he would rather forget. His solo dance is titled "It means honor" because his last name means "honor" in Hawaiian.

Briana Dean is another dance senior participating in this semester’s concert. Though she is finishing her degree in dance this semester, she will stay at GVSU for another semester to finish a degree in exercise science.

Her choreographed dance piece was inspired by time she spent abroad in Ghana. Its title, "Asase Ye Duru," comes from the Adinkra symbols, which are visual symbols of West Africa that mean "Divinity of Mother Earth."

“I hoped to convey the genuinity and positivity I felt there from the people and the environment,” Dean said. “My solo is very simple. It is basically about the kinesthetic of the human body coupled with a beautiful piece of music."

Her solo is titled "Sesa Wo Suban," meaning "change of transformation of your character."

Dean plans to continue with dance after graduation as either a performer or teacher.

“There are so many principles in dance that I will carry with me throughout life, and I am grateful for them all,” Dean said. “Dance has provided me with a nice balance of artistic expression as well as discipline.”

The participating seniors have done more than dance and choreograph throughout the semester. Each of the dancers has worked to produce the show from the bottom up with minimal professor involvement. The semester-long project included behind-the-scenes work, such as renting space and chairs as well as creating posters, costumes and designing lighting. In addition, they had to create a press release and personal websites.

The concert will start at 7 p.m. in the Dance Studio Theater, Performing Arts Center Room 1600, on April 17 and April 18.

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