Ah, November. Many think of the first magical snowfall of the season with light traces of footprints crisscrossing through the frosted grass. Others may be reminded of the lengthy American holiday season and dash off to buy Christmas gifts for loved ones. More broody types may reflect only on the oncoming cold and how ill-prepared they are to receive its wrath. For me, Nov. is all of these things plus one more: Nov. is the month when the art scene in Ann Arbor explodes.
If you’ve been toying with the idea of seeing a University production, now is the time to finally commit, pull on your snow boots and trudge over to the theater. Trust me, it’s a wonderful change from pulling on your beer-stained, lost-cause white sneakers and trekking over to a frat house.
If dance is the art form that makes your heart sing, consider the School of Music, Theatre & Dance’s “hand&hand” senior BFA showcase. Senior BFA students Alyssa Gorman, Annelise Senkowski, Kandis DeAnne Terry and Amy Wensley will each showcase a group and solo work this weekend at the Betty Pease Studio Theater. Each piece highlights an aspect of their personal experience, either at the University or throughout their personal lives.
Senkowski’s solo work focuses on the hiraeth, a Welsh word best translated to “a nostalgia for something that never was.” Senkowski’s theme draws heavily from her childhood, having left her home at the age of 14 to pursue professional Classical ballet training at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Now a senior at the University, Senkowski still feels like the “home” she’s nostalgic for isn’t a location in the world.
“When I go home, it doesn’t feel like the place where I should relax, rest and sink my feet into the ground. I dream of that feeling of settlement that comes when your plane lands and you’re home, but I don’t really have that,” Senkowski said.
But she’s not regretful.
“I want the audience to acknowledge that there’s a hole in everyone,” Senkowski said.
Any type of longing naturally leads to a feeling of isolation, and Senkowski has chosen to link her solo work with her group work on the isolation of women, specifically within relationships. She pressed the importance of women lifting each other up to combat this isolation.
“We’ve always fought to have a place at the table, but we’ve got to get rid of the notion that there’s only one place for women. We can all have a seat at the table, we just need to help each other,” Senkowski said.
Kandis DeAnne Terry
Terry’s work is focused on the importance of healing, and her vehicle to do so is color. She embraces color therapy as a way to accept the energies of others while being cognizant of how our individual energies enhance the bigger picture.
“Our (energies), just like our bodies, are made up of many parts and colors, seven to be exact. Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, & Red,” Terry said in an email interview with The Daily.
Terry sees each of these colors as associated with a particular chakra. Violet, for example, is the chakra associated with naturalistic instincts. The green chakra fuels one’s connection with others. Terry sees these chakras, and their corresponding colors, as integral to understanding herself.
“I have found that each of my energy chakras matter. Each is unique and have their own function and key to healing. Although one chakra may be stronger or channeled more often than the other, does not mean the rest are not just as useful or needed,” Terry wrote.
Gorman puts her finger on the moment every college student can relate to — the feeling of being torn in different directions, crushed by expectations from every facet of life.
“As I am graduating in one month, I have found myself constantly looking for the next thing (job, opportunity, audition, etc.) instead of living in the moment,” Gorman wrote in an email interview with The Daily.
Like many others, Gorman has found her community to be an incredible support system to find her inner peace in the face of this chaos.
“To have a group of people to cheer you on and build up through the highs and the lows is so important to your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being,” Gorman wrote.
Gorman will use contemporary jazz to bring her experiences to light on stage.
Projecting your energy on the outside world can be just as important as focusing on yourself, especially with the rampant effects of climate change already seen and those to come. Wensley uses movement to highlight the importance of caring for the world that we inhabit.
“In regards to the environment, in some ways, we’re improving, and in some ways, we’re lacking,” Wensley wrote in an email interview with The Michigan Daily.
Wensley’s group work focuses on the theme of migration, specifically of ethnic groups around the world. Her ideas stem from migrations in her own family.
“My theme of ‘migration’ stemmed from research about my multicultural heritage: my 96-year-old grandpa’s challenges in the 1930s-50s with his Native American roots, my late grandfather who immigrated from Malta in the 1950s, and my first-generation American mother growing up in metro-Detroit,” Wensley wrote.
All choreographers will present their works from Thurs. Nov. 15 to Sat. Nov. 17 at the Betty Pease Studio Theater