Courtesy of Jason Ayer

USC student dancers, choreographers look to make audiences 'sit back, think, and question'

USC's Department of Theatre and Dance students will premiere original works at the spring 2019 Student Choreography Showcase.

Overseen by dance instructor Cindy Flach, the showcase takes place at the end of every spring and fall semesters. The process begins in the fall when students choreograph and perfect their pieces before performing them in the showcase at the end of the semester. Only some of the students' pieces are chosen to continue into the spring showcase. 

If chosen, students are expected to develop and refine their ideas to create better, thought-provoking performances in the spring.

The student choreographers control every aspect of their performance. They make the movements, pick the costumes and choose the lighting. The dancers take on a new directing role they may not have experience with.

But the showcase is not a rehashing of the fall. Fourth-year dance performance major Rylee McCormick said there are students in a senior capstone class who are choreographing never-before-seen pieces.

There are eight pieces in the spring showcase, including pieces by Maria Maccaroni, Rylee McCormick, Stuart Dickinson, Abigail Slade, John L. Green II, Jhada Kahan-Thomas, Michael Miranda and Meredith Price. Each piece is different and represents the ideas of the choreographer. 

“As a woman, I should no longer feel the need to suppress my thoughts, opinions, and my voice," Maccaroni, a fourth-year dance performance and choreography student, said in an email interview. "I want to be seen and I want to be heard, and so does every other woman that I surround myself with. My piece showcases the strength and power that women in our society have, we are a force to be reckoned with.”

McCormick said she based her piece on one of Michelle Obama's speeches with the concept, "My story is your story."

“It kind of sparked this idea that how today, women are pitted against each other instead of building each other up.” McCormick said.

Students can perform in their peers’ pieces as well as choreograph their own. But whether they do one or both, they've worked to create pieces that illustrate who they are as individuals, McCormick said.

"I would encourage all students at USC to attend this concert to be exposed to the expression of relevant societal concepts and issues through dance," Maccaroni said. "Not only my piece, but all pieces showcased in this concert are going to make the audience sit back, think, and question."

There will be performances on April 26 at 7:30 p.m. and April 27 at 2 p.m., both at Drayton Hall Theatre. Tickets are $15 for students; $20 for USC faculty and staff, military and seniors; and $22 for the general public.

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