Homecoming Recap: Student Music & Dance Performance

Photo by Sarah Hlusko

This week’s Merciad just hit the press, and inside the current issue is a terrific recap of the incredible performance on Saturday by music and dance students as part of Homecoming & Family Weekend. It is a great article, shared below as well as available on the paper’s website. To start off Homecoming Weekend, the dance and music departments collaborated for the annual Homecoming and Family Weekend Celebration Performance. Please read below for a great article by Merciad staff writer Emma Rishel.

The morning started off with Brittany Barko singing with the Mercyhurst Jazz Combo. They presented “So Long,” arranged by Pat Benetar and “Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin.It was an upbeat way to start off the morning, as they were songs the audience seemed to recognize and enjoy. Next was an excerpt from “Pulcinella,” a ballet choreographed by Chair of the Dance Department Tauna Hunter to music by Stravinsky. The dancers had a youthful and cheery manner and enjoyed performing the piece.

As a contrast, the next dance was a solo performed by 2006 alumna Sara Lawrence. Her solo was a dedication to her grandmother and sister-in-law who passed away from cancer. Audience members could see and feel her pain. The sharper movements and longing in her face conveyed the emotions she was feeling and sharing with those watching.

On a lighter note, the next dance titled “Elipsination,” performed by SoMar Dance Works possessed the usual joy and silliness of SoMar. The dance started off with five women with large foam-like yellow disks on their heads. Throughout the dance they interacted with the disks in innovative and fun ways. The music, Luigi Boccherini’s Minuet from String Quartet No.1 in E Major, is familiar to most people. Audience member Katherine Gnatowski said, “I thought it was adorable. It reminds me of the dancing mushrooms from Disney’s Fantasia.”

Following that was the newly formed Mercyhurst Ballet Theatre’s presentation of “Sculpture Unbound,” a new work choreographed by Sarah Grace, a 2011 alumna. The costumes flowed beautifully as the dancers moved with a controlled abandon that matched the music perfectly. Junior Olivia Boyd said, “Performing the piece was very freeing. It is a very musical piece and just felt really good to dance.”

The D’Angelo Department of Music then presented three very different genres of music that kept the morning moving along nicely. First was freshman Andrija Andjelic’s flawless piano solo of “Etude in D# minor” by Alexander Scriabin. Junior Alianna Whiteaker-Chudeke’s powerful and exuberant voice rang through the auditorium during “Der Holle Rache” (The Queen of the Night), an excerpt from the opera “The Magic Flute” by Mozart. The third musical number was “What Makes Me Love You the Way I Do?” a duet from the show “Tin Types” sung by postbaccalaureate student Matthew Tolbert and Natalie Pertz. It was playful and reminiscent of the dancing and singing style of the early 19th century.

Mercyhurst Ballet Theatre then performed “Guitar Danza,” a contemporary dance for three women. It was very interesting, as some of the floor work was original and kept those watching guessing what might be coming next. There was a sense of yearning in the dancers’ faces and movements.

To finish off the program, the Mercyhurst Liturgical Dance Ensemble performed an excerpt from “Multitude of Angels,” a new work choreographed by Assistant Professor of dance C. Noelle Partusch to music by J.S. Bach. This piece served as a sort of preview for the dance department’s holiday concert.

The large cast filled the stage with magnificent melodies and graceful movement. It was an uplifting and joyful way to end the morning.

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