When I first saw the poster with the label that read “This
Product May Contain Peanuts,” I immediately thought of trail mix
with an assortment of nuts, pretzels, seeds, raisins and, of
course, chocolate chips. While each of these ingredients is tasty,
they are never as satisfying individually as they are when combined
into the entity known as trail mix. The grab bag of pieces in the
production of “This Product May Contain Peanuts,” choreographed by
six of the Department of Dance’s graduating seniors, is guaranteed
to provide an equally fulfilling experience.

Each year the graduating dance majors put together a show to
display how they have synthesized their training at the university.
In addition to choreography they are in charge of casting,
costuming and promotion. Though producing a show for these first
time choreographers is daunting, they have been preparing for this
moment since entering the university by taking a series of
choreography and production classes.

Their approaches to developing ideas into a finished product are
as diverse as the group’s experiences, but each has a story that
pertains to her development as a person and as an artist. When
choreographer Abigail Sebaly’s mother suffered from a fractured
skull last spring, Sebaly came up with the idea for “Bread and
Circus” as an attempt to deal constructively with her frustrations
of not being with her mother. Drawing from her second major in
English, she synthesized her literary background with her dance
experience. In a series of vignettes staged around tables, which
signify a place of discussing issues, “Bread and Circus” tells the
story of a dinner party gone awry. Though the piece is deeply
personal at times, Sebaly succeeds in her attempt to create a work
of universal appeal by balancing the intensity, a guest smashing a
strand of pearls with the comedic break of a grown man playing a
toy piano.

Sebaly incorporates the symbolism of the piano into the solo
that she must also perform to graduate. Her mother, who is in the
process of recovering, will accompany Sebaly in her solo with
Braham’s “Somehow We Grow to be Grateful,” a piece she used to play
for her when she was a child. Recalling that her mother used to
say, “It should be played as if it were being danced,” Sebaly said,
“It’s a nice period at the end of the sentence.”

In contrast with the intensity of Sebaly’s contributions,
Patricia Martin explores the connection between animals and man in
“Babe.” Anna Beard uses classical ballet and modern technique to
offer a glimpse into life backstage in “Out of Sight.” Kathleen
Boyer’s dancers explore the emotions of everyday life as students,
women and artists in “Introduction to the Angel.” Four soloists
explore two aspects of metaphor through movement in “Tenor and
Vehicle,” and, with a heavily Paul Taylor-influenced work, Leslie
Lamberson’s “Apogee” closes the show with an exploration of the
boundaries of grace and Classicism.

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