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Dance Ensemble’s Borro(we)d emphasizes community

Photo by Sno Zhao
Photo by Sno Zhao
Photo by Sno Zhao

Nora Coghlan

Themes of community, love, friendship, trust and intimacy will all be explored this weekend through the Theater and Dance Department’s Dance Ensemble performance of Borro(we)d. Artistic Director Waewdao Sirisook led this semester’s Dance Ensemble.

At the beginning of the semester, the ensemble sat down to discuss themes that they would like to explore in their choreography.

“A lot of the work leading up to our performance was … talking about issues that we really cared about, so a lot of it is about community and being together, but also celebrating individuality, celebrating our bodies, ourselves,” said ensemble member Ceci Bergman ’19.

The group found these themes to be particularly salient given the current political climate, and specific causes like the No Dakota Access Pipe Line movement and awareness campaigns advocating for acceptance and inclusions of Muslims.

One particular campaign, wherein Muslim men stood in busy areas with blind folds on and signs that said “I’m Muslim and I’m not a terrorist,” and invited strangers to hug them, was particularly important in Sirisook’s conception of community.

“When people did not participate in that it broke my heart. I myself did a short performance on that too, and … I believe that every performer is in a very vulnerable place when they become that person who depends on other peoples trust, and … when I talked with students and they wanted to work with vulnerability and love and relationships, I immediately thought of this theme that I have experimented with before,” Siridook said.

After deciding on a theme, the dancers worked together in groups and pairs to develop their own choreography. Sarah Schlax ’17 said that unlike previous semesters, the dancers had much more influence on the final outcome.

“I think we’ve been given more leeway than in other instances to really choreograph our own piece,” she said. “And the theme of the piece is community and love and friendship and putting more of ourselves into it and our interactions with other dancers really lends itself to that theme really well.”

“Having more freedom to express ourselves makes the piece more intimate and I think more raw so it’s much more of an introspective piece I think,” Charlie Rosenblum ’18 added.

Sirisook’s unique style of teaching and choreographing complimented the piece’s theme as well. Along with the original student choreography, Sirisook incorporated traditional Thai dance.

“We included a lot of Thai dance, both the philosophy and aesthetic in that also in the movement, and we also have a lot of individual movement from each student,” Sirisook said.

Each member of the ensemble contributed something unique to the piece as well, especially because the members have varying levels of dance experience.

“[Working with new dancers] was a bit difficult at first but I would say that what I’m looking for is not … perfection,” Sirisook said. “What I’m looking for is people to share and to be yourself, be your best of that moment and finally I think I find that each person has that quality within themselves even though they might not be a professional dancer.”

More than making the piece perfect, Sirisook hoped that the themes of the work would transfer to the group.

“What I wanted them to gain the most was the love and trust of each other because that … leads to a good work. If they do not love and trust each other, the work will still become very awkward. You can dance and you can memorize the dance very well, but this kind of work that we do now if you see the show, it involves a lot of intimacy and real feeling,” Sirisook said.

Borro(we)d will be performed tonight and tomorrow at 7 p.m. in Flanagan Theatre in Bucksbaum.

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