Performance students draw on real-life experiences for show

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Are You Afraid of the Dark? piece by Lianne Tammi. (Alexia Kapralos/Ryersonian Staff)

Student-run and student-made – that’s what Ryerson’s upper-year dance show Choreographic Works is all about.
Choreographic Works is a dance show hosted at the Ryerson Theatre from March 4-12. It will primarily involve third- and fourth-year Ryerson performance dance students, with some second-years and one first-year student, choreographing and dancing all of the routines. Theatre production students will be involved as well, running the show’s public relations and other various technical roles within the theatre.

Produced by Vicki St. Denys, a dance instructor at Ryerson, Choreographic Works will feature a variety of genres including jazz, ballet, modern and contemporary dance.

Approximately 120 routines audition for the show, with around 45 pieces making it in. Since there are so many pieces, there are two variations of the show in order to maximize the pieces showcased. Opening night starts with show A, the second night show B and alternating thereon. Some pieces will be in both shows, while others are in either show A or B.

Irena Ponizova, a fourth-year dance student and one of the dancers and choreographers for the show, said that because she has a ballet background, being part of a show like this has given her more of an opportunity to branch out and experiment with different styles of dance. One of the dances she choreographed has a strong ballet element because she said it’s part of who she is.

Ponizova said that music and visual art inspire her dance routines. In fact, they give her a strong mental visual to work from. One of her two pieces this year pulls inspiration from a work of art called Visitation by George Condo — a picture of a beautiful woman with a creature latching onto her head — while other inspiration comes from a much more personal place based on life experience.

“Dances could be narrative and the theme could be obvious or abstract,” she said.
Christopher Green, a fourth-year dancer and choreographer, says his routines are inspired by his teenage journal entries, written during a dark time in his life. “The more things that happen in life, the more creative you could be,” he said.

Opening up about this emotional story through dance felt fulfilling to him, Green said. He said that he felt the routines he choreographed were his version of a memoir and that this routine is one of the most emotional he’s ever choreographed. It also gives him the chance to share his story with his fellow dancers.

But not all dancers use their routines for emotional expression. For Drew Berry, another fourth-year dance student involved in the show, Choreographic Works is a way to incorporate her other passions, such as film.

“I want to incorporate everything I enjoy,” she said.

Berry said taking a film class in first semester this year helped fuel her love for the medium. She will be using a hand-held projector during her routine in the show, marrying the arts of film and dance.

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