Last weekend (April 7-9), Eastern University’s dance department presented its spring concert, “In Full Bloom.” The concert featured an array of beautiful pieces choreographed by Eastern faculty and students. To get an inside look at what went into the preparation for this concert, I spoke to senior dance major Hannah Brumbach.
“The premise of the whole show is around community and friendship and binding together,” Brumbach explains. This certainly came through in the concert, with a number of pieces bringing together the themes of unity and individuality. One moving example of these themes was a piece called “Out of the Dust,” choreographed by Madison Eichert, Emily Pisano, Megan Schultz and Chlöe Streitburger. The choreographers note in the program, “Throughout all of the changes that our department has endured, our community has continued to grow. Through these friendships, we are able to support each other to rise out of the dust and overcome whatever comes our way.” Overall, the piece communicated a beautiful vision of what it means to hold one another up within a community, caring for each other and lifting each other up when we fall.
The theme of unity was also present in the three pieces that Brumbach co-choreographed. “Our Own Beat” was choreographed by (and featured) Brumbach along with Jordan Bonney and Maddie Ridgeway. In this tap trio, the dancers worked to bring together different rhythms and movements in one cohesive piece. Explaining the piece, Brumbach notes, “We’re finding a lot of polyrhythms underneath each other, or making the same rhythm with different movements, and working together as a trio to figure that out.”
Brumbach also co-choreographed a piece called “Take a Moment” with Samantha Ambrico, Alexandra Roberts and Neeka Skelton.
“It’s kind of a reflection of our time here at Eastern,” Brumbach says, “but for the wider audience it can simply be the premise of community–that no matter how close you are or how far away you are, you’re still connected by your past experiences together. We use a lot of contact with each other and empathizing–so, taking on each other’s movement–and then we use modifications of an original piece of movement to show everyone being uniquely different, but also doing it all together.”
In a piece entitled “Articulation in Two,” Brumbach collaborated with Skelton. This lighthearted and entertaining piece was unique in bringing together two very different styles: modern dance and old Hollywood jazz.
“We had the original nugget of an idea for fusing modern and jazz,” Brumbach says. “We thought it would be really interesting to fuse the two because they’re so different.” Brumbach and Skelton not only wanted to fuse two dance styles, but also wanted to create a piece that married something old and something new. Brumbach explains, “What we’re really looking at is holding on and the importance of looking back at where we’ve come from…..Even though it’s kind of antiquated and silly and doesn’t fit in with our cultural norms, it’s still a gem in our history of dance.”
Throughout the entire concert, it was clear that Eastern’s dance department is bursting with both talent and creative vision. When I ask Brumbach about her experience as a dance major at Eastern, one of the things she emphasizes is the unique bond between the dancers.
“Being in such a community has taught me a lot about loving others,” Brumbach says. “The dancers are together for almost all of their classes. We have rehearsals. We’re spending lots of extra hours in the studio together. We’re being extremely vulnerable with each other in our creative processes….Unfortunately, in our culture art is not valued, and so it becomes competitive in an unhealthy way. And so there are very, very few dance environments that you will ever find like Eastern’s dance department, where you learn how to uplift other people and also uplift yourself.”
This sense of mutual supportiveness was clearly embodied in the art created for the spring concert, and each show served as a reminder that Eastern’s dance department is, indeed, a rare and beautiful thing.