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Department ofTheatre and Dance


Choreographer's Gallery 2019 performance

Choreographer's Gallery 2019 performance

Bringing Emotion to the Stage

Student choreographers tap into contemporary topics such as motherhood, human trafficking, and more during this year’s Choreographers’ Gallery.

Student choreographers tap into contemporary topics such as motherhood, human trafficking, and more during this year’s Choreographers’ Gallery.

By Ally O’Connor ’20

Rehearsal photo of students in the Choreographer's Gallery 2019

Fall quarter, talented Santa Clara University dancers put on the “Choreographers' Gallery,” a performance comprised of original student-designed pieces.  Featuring choreographically diverse pieces by dance majors, minors, and enthusiasts, SCU’s annual “Choreographers' Gallery” showcases are created by students who have taken Dance Composition and Choreography courses led by Theatre and Dance faculty Kristin Kusanovich and David Popalisky. Included in this year’s program were dances created by Emma Smith (“Lights Out”), Camille Hope (“Control”), Thien-Kim Tran (H.E.A.T.), Katherine Seely (“Dear Mom”), Marggi de Lusignan (“Peaceful Disaster”), and Caroline Eby (“Thinking Outside the Cubicle”).  Performance Director and SCU Lecturer Pauline Locsin-Kanter (Theatre & Dance) explains that this yearly production is a “stepping stone for our majors, who will then move on to define, cast, and produce their final senior project.”

Choreographing her piece as a tribute to her mother, Katherine Seely ’20 (Finance) used a piano and cello cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” to tell her story.  As a Dance minor, Seely says that “having the opportunity to showcase my work on the main stage was really exciting!”

When asked about the design of her piece, Seely explains that she conducted an interview with her mother asking about raising her and her sister and about motherhood in general. Ultimately, she ended up including quotes from the interview in her final product.  When she thinks of her mother, three words come to mind—“love, constancy, and support.” Using these words and conversations, Seely explored “the tension between a mother wishing to prepare her child for the world, and a child discovering the world on his/her own and potentially getting hurt.” In the end, Seely walked away from “Choreographers' Gallery” with the lesson to “not put too much pressure on the end product, and instead trust that I would create something that I am proud of.”

Tackling a challenging topic, another student-choreographer, Thien-Kim Tran ’20 (Sociology) titled her piece "H.E.A.T.," which stands for Human Trafficking And Exploitation.  Tran notes that, to her, it was important “to use this opportunity as a method of sparking discussion around an urgent contemporary topic. As a Vietnamese-American, human trafficking in Southeast Asia is a subject that is very near and dear to my heart.”  In designing her piece, Tran read several academic papers about “why this exploitation occurs, as well as researching survivor's personal anecdotes. I was very inspired to tap into the emotional turmoil created through surviving such difficulty and hope that my choreography was able to capture the frantic intensity of the situation and bring these people's stories to life.”

Of the experience as a whole, Tran says that she was so excited “to be able to choreograph for this show, since I knew a project of this magnitude would be an excellent chance to grow, both creatively and in my relationships with my dancers and other fellow choreographers.” Furthermore, she is extremely grateful that SCU dancers are afforded the “amazing opportunity to work with our department chair in creating a dance that is eventually performed on Mayer stage.”

Locsin-Kanter had nothing but rave reviews for this year’s “Choreographer’s Gallery,” proudly stating that “this production was a definite hit with exciting, engaging, and meaningful works of art created by some of the most talented students of SCU’s Department of Theatre and Dance.”

For more photos of the performance, visit SCU Presents’ Flickr album