When most people hear the words “senior thesis,”
they conjure images of gargantuan stacks of analytical writing and
research interesting only to a select group of academics. Say those
same words to one of this year’s graduating dance majors and
you’ll find an entirely different mental image. This weekend,
five dancers will showcase nine works of original choreography
— their final theses — in “Clear Box Left”
at the Dance Building’s Betty Pease Studio Theater.

Ryan Myers will present her solo “To When She
Returns,” featuring the song “Nobody But You” by
the legendary gospel vocalist Shirley Caesar. In the piece, her
character approaches God from a posture of humility, a companion
who is a personal rather than a distant deity. “It’s
about spiritual reconciliation, returning to my cultural
roots,” Myers explained.

Myers also explores the themes of “independence versus
dependence and the essential need of human beings to have intimate
relationships” in her group work, “Crashing
Life.” She began choreography for the piece last semester,
finding inspiration for the movement in her dancers’ response
to questions on the nature of human interaction. Through a process
of working in smaller groups and building the project from
spontaneous ideas in the studio, she ended up with a series of
episodes in solos, duets, trios and quintets linked by
improvisational transitions. Myers also made her own costumes and
mixed the percussive music from sound effects and songs by Kodo and
the Master Drummers of Ghana.

Jen Koski will present “Curves,” a piece for which
she, like Myers, mixed music and created costumes, this time by
sewing newspaper onto shirts and jeans. Her creative process was
highly involved, borrowing elements from two inventive dances at a
summer festival and relating her dancers’ movements to photos
from her personal collection. The end result takes a cue from
“Alice in Wonderland.” “It’s a surrealist
look at the curves in life, things that don’t make
sense,” Koski said. “It became this messed-up world
that someone’s passing through, but there’s beauty
there.”

Her solo, “Falling Demeanor,” was choreographed by
University alum Ricky Mason, who now lives in Seattle. The two
worked primarily from long distance on the work, which Koski said
addressed “the parallels between the performance space and
the pedestrian life.”

The recital also includes Justin House’s thesis based on
Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” centering on a small
girl who encounters demons and angels. It’s choreographed by
alum Anna Beard. In addition, Natalie Lacuesta presents
“Manipulated ____” about the individual facing societal
pressure to conform and the solo “Neo Punk Junkie,”
choreographed by Jon Fredricks to music by The White Stripes.
Finally, Nikki Stasunas showcases “Cover Me,” which
uses music from Bjork and dancers from the studio where she teaches
in Brighton.

The performance offers an opportunity to sample an abundance of
innovative work and gain insight into what inspires five artists.
These talented dance students are showing what they are capable of
and should be able to contribute to the field for years to
come.

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