Bucknell Dance Company Spring Concert: “Pointe-ing” to Perfection

Juliana Rodrigues, Special Features Editor

Coming to Bucknell University’s Weis Center for Performing Arts on April 28 is the annual Bucknell Dance Company Spring Concert. With seven dances choreographed by faculty, guest artists, and even students, preparation for the event began months ago at the beginning of the spring semester.

This year’s production of the annual Spring Concert is dedicated to Iris A. Rifkin-Gainer who passed away on April 3. A friend to many in the Bucknell and Lewisburg community, she was also a colleague, author, teacher and dance therapist. For 12 years at Bucknell she worked as the Outreach Arts Coordinator for the Weis Center and also performed occasionally in the university’s dance and theater productions.

Dances this year range from solo performances from BDC members to group dances of up to 15 dancers. Guest artist choreography comes from Kurt A. Douglass, Genevieve Hartnett, Jessica Lin, Jose Limon and Mabelle Liu. Faculty choreographing this spring are Professors Dustyn Martincich, Kelly Knox, and Er-Dong Hu. Student choreographers include Hailey Jacobs ’24 and Shaun Parrish ’23. 

For the first time in a BDC dance concert, a group dance choreographed and taught by Professor Hu will be performed fully on pointe. “Good Pointe” will open the show and feature 10 company dancers, performing to music from both Tchaikovsky and Mozart. Lighting design for the dance was done by Jack Filpi and costume design by Carly Holzwarth. Dancer in this piece Emily Cook ’25 shared her thoughts with the Bucknellian.

“Pointe is not typically offered within the dance department, let alone performed on stage, due to the risk of injury as well as the lack of dancers trained in pointework,” Cook said. “This year, we had a large group of dancers classically trained in ballet as well as on pointe, so it was really exciting to be cast in this piece! I didn’t think I would have the opportunity to perform pointe again, so I am very excited to go back to my roots and perform a style so close to my heart!”

The second piece being performed is from student choreographer Jacobs. Titled “how rare and beautiful it truly is that we exist,” the dance is dedicated to the lives lost during the 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. The six minute 12 second duration of dance represents the length of the shooting. While it is danced in memory of all the victims, the piece is also specifically dedicated to Jamie Guttenberg, a dancer who was fourteen when she was killed. 

The “how rare and beautiful it truly is that we exist” dance features nine members of BDC with costume design by Emma Burns ’24 and lighting design by Gabe Gross ’23. Music for the piece is from Hendyamps Studios, Sarah Ozelle, and Max Richter.

Following a solo by Jessica Lin will be the second student choreographed dance by Shaun Parrish. With nine BDC members performing in the dance titled “Idle Labyrinth,” music from the dance features Swedish House Mafia, SZA and Hans Zimmer. Parrish shared his inspiration and intent for the piece.

“I am most excited to show my peers and mentors an insight into my personal odyssey,” Parrish said. “Idle Labyrinth represents my journey discovering, reconciling with and flourishing in my queer identity throughout my youth and collegiate life.”

Parrish continued on to speak on the dance forms that were included throughout his piece.

“Voguing and whacking are two historically queer dance styles seen in this piece. Vogue as a dance form was created in Harlem during the 1970s and 80s within traditionally Black and Latino spaces. New York drag competitions titled ‘balls’ in these spaces transformed pageantry to vogue. Whacking originated during the 1970s in the gay disco clubs of Los Angeles where queer Black, Latino and Asian men pioneered the dance form in a journey of expression where society at large wouldn’t let them.” 

With concluding statements regarding the dance Parrish said, “Queer, drag, and trans communities are under attack from U.S. lawmakers and society at large. Our rights, livelihoods, and passions are being threatened by powerful entities. In the department of theater and dance, I have found compassionate professors and a beautiful community of peers that support myself and my identity. I hope to pay homage to the beautiful history of queer dance forms and bring the community that helped me discover who I am to the audience.”

Following this piece will be another faculty choreographed piece by Professor Kelly Knox “LOVE re-called.” With twelve BDC dancers, music throughout the piece has been pulled from various artists. Some include Amiina, Lyden David Hall, Bruno Coulais, Michel Buble, Nirvana, Hozier and more. Costume design was done by Carly Holzwarth and lighting design by Hath Hansum. 

Kurt Douglas staged the sixth dance of the show “Psalm” with original choreography from the Jose Limon Dance company. The piece was originally performed at the Connecticut College American Dance Festival and was danced by thirteen BDC members. 

Cook, who was a dancer in this piece, commented on her excitement for the dance.

“It was such an honor to be taught by Kurt Douglas, who is a former Limon Company Dancer and teaches at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee,” Cook said. “I was in awe of his way of movement, and it was truly inspiring to be able to work with him and continue my dance education under someone who has such incredible experiences within the dance world. Psalm is definitely one of my favorite pieces I have performed during my time at Bucknell so far; it is such a powerful piece and it is an honor to carry on Limon’s legacy.”

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