On Stage: Student Choreography at PPU

Point Park University’s dance students once again led off the season with a Student Choreography Project that was wonderfully diverse, with just about all the pieces having something of interest to offer.

The first half of the program had a fresh and current look, although Allison Garcia’s “Await the Resolution” had weak gestures that trumped the satisfying overall placement of dancers. But the rest of the pieces easily sustained a certain attraction with more assertive concepts. That could be seen in the jazz inflections of Alyson Laury’s “Lurid,” the sexual identity issues of Scott Romani’s “Performance Anxiety” and a strong cast in Chris Williams’ “Indiffidence,” where Zach Kapeluck nonetheless dominated with his laser-like focus.

There hasn’t been such a complete transformation among student dancers at Point Park over the years I have been attending performances. Zach changed from a handsome poet of a dancer last year into someone just out of Navy Seals training, complete with buzz cut. It was a great look to go with a powerhouse performance.

There was also a new look to “Yours Truly, Technology,” by Laurel Bashore, loaded with plenty of cool factor in its techno punch that made it uniquely memorable.


After intermission, the pieces kept the dance threads moving more in a traditional vein, with a nice organic feel to Natalie Hratko’s “Tip Me Over,” but an unfinished sense to Eddie Corely’s “Consciousness.”

Lea Barats created “Thousand Yard Stare,” ripe with its war-like overtones. Yet it needed to dig a little deeper to sustain its power, as did Mary Steward in “Synesthesia” and Katie Burks in “Spill.”  Still, they were all juniors who have a chance to expand their talents next year.

Abigail Adkins closed the program with “Turmoil’s Beautiful Life.” This certainly wasn’t the usual type of finale for a dance concert — almost serene in its nature. However she scored creative points for an original score by (brother?) Tyler. And the whole concept of unfolding turmoil in such a peaceful way was mesmerizin throughout.

The Student Choreography Project has gradually become a must-see event, just to see where dance is headed in the future. Congratulations to those who participated and to Laurel, whose “Yours Truly, Technology” was selected to represent Point Park at the American College Dance Festival Association in March, 2012 at Penn State University.

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