Miranda Lawson, Dance
betwixt & between
Project Advisor: Barbie Diewald
betwixt & between is an embodied research project that explores intersectional identities, identity perception through movement, and the fostering of an environment that is celebratory of Blackness. This project works to fuse contemporary and Hip-hop dance styles and cultures, through movement and the remnants of Black culture that live in the props accompanying the work. This research stems from my identity and experiences as a biracial woman who has trained extensively in both of these dance forms. The piece investigates the ways in which we can simultaneously embody different selves along with when and how those selves are perceived: sifting through my understanding of labels and divides as they relate to both identity and movement styles.
While this research is deeply personal and vulnerable it is shaped not only by my experiences, but by other Black experiences and a multitude of movement knowledge gifted to me by different teachers throughout my lifetime. I began this project with many questions, some very specific to my own lived experiences and others more general; how do different identities inform movement habits? What are the implications of being Black and white and a dancer? How do these identities become embodied through movement? How do these identities inform one another and how can they exist equitably in a body?
The movement portion was generated collaboratively between myself and seven other Black dancers. We used a handful of different strategies when generating movement. We created some movements as responses to excerpts and ideas from texts such as Gather by Octavia Raheem, My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem, and You Belong by Sebene Selassie. We also used our own reflections on connection and belonging as inspiration and guidance for movement. Additionally, we adopted a tactic that I first developed with Professors Barbie Diewald and Shakia Barron in the summer of 2021 deemed “tone twisting”, where you take a movement phrase in one dance form and translate it into another (i.e from contemporary to Hip-hop or vice versa). Essentially, giving you two versions of the same material that differ in tone.
The piece is set to a medley of sounds ranging from jazz to afrobeats to Hip-hop and rap, all by Black artists including my grandfather and jazz musician, Cedric Lawson. Music was deeply influential in the development of the piece and acted as a launchpad for much of the movement as musicality and syncopation were driving factors in my research and overall aesthetic for the work.
Sandra Scarlatoiu, Dance
Reunited to a Mother's Heartbeat: Research in Korean Cultural Heritage through Dance
Project Advisor: Barbie Diewald
This project is an investigation into Korean fan dance, or buchaechum (부채춤). It was originally a solo dance form developed during the Joseon Dynasty1 , but was later developed by Kim Baek-Bong into a group dance form starting in 1954 shortly after the Korean War ended and the 48th parallel was established 2 . It is performed and celebrated all over the world by Korean communities at cultural festivals and events. Each dancer typically dons regalia consisting of a hanbok, a traditional Korean dress, and a jokduri (crown) while also wielding a pair of fans to create different shapes, which is the central focus of the dance.3
I approach my research through two mediums. The first is recalling memories from my childhood practice of this dance form, integrating it into my choreographic process. The second is investigating the culture surrounding first and second-generation Korean-Americans in the United States. This includes the importance of the Christian faith in Korean community formation4 , and the struggles second-generation Koreans face regarding integration into society in the United States5
1 Kim, Minhyun, Chan Woong Park, Jun-Hyung Baek, and Tess Armstrong. 2019. “Teaching Dance through Korean Fan Dance.” JOPERD: The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance 90 (6): 7–17.
2 Sounds of Korea. 2018. “Traditional Dances.” Traditional Dances l. KBS World, October 24, 2018. http://world.kbs.co.kr/service/contents_view.htm?lang=e&menu_cate=&id=&board_seq=349739.
3 Kim, Minhyun, Chan Woong Park, Jun-Hyung Baek, and Tess Armstrong. 2019. “Teaching Dance through Korean Fan Dance.” JOPERD: The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance 90 (6): 7–17.
4 Kelly H. Chong. 1998. “What It Means to Be Christian: The Role of Religion in the Construction of Ethnic Identity and Boundary among Second-Generation Korean Americans.” Sociology of Religion 59 (3): 259–86.
5 Kim, Dae Young. 2013. Second-Generation Korean Americans. [Electronic Resource] : The Struggle for Full Inclusion. New Americans : Recent Immigration and American Society. LFB Scholarly Pub. LLC.
Toby Clingan, Dance
ather in translation: A Choreographic Process of Relationality
Project advisor: Barbie Diewald
gather in translation explores connection and trust, centering the relationships built between the dancers throughout the process of choreographing the work. In rehearsals, I taught them set choreography that we combined with phrases they built from improvisational scores, writing practices, and collaborative tasks. One of the collaborative tasks was asking my dancers to write down phrases they know, then instructing them to swap writings and reconstruct the material in a pair and a trio. This research is informed by a class I took in my first year, The Work of Translation with Professor Carolyn Shread. I also used writings from my peers in my Dance Senior Capstone Seminar to give each dancer in my cast a ‘translation solo’ to construct individually, using chance procedure informed by modern dance choreographer Merce Cunningham to randomly assign sections of movement instructions from each writing to my dancers. Our process also included a practice of alternating dancing and writing that I learned from Miranda Lawson who learned the practice from Alex Davis, used both as a way to generate material and to warm into our bodies. In most rehearsals, especially towards the second half of the year, my cast engaged in a “7 and 7” improvisation practice, spending 7 minutes dancing apart followed by 7 minutes dancing together. I learned this from Hannah Berry, who learned it with Katherine Kain, Barbie Diewald, and Katie Martin. Additionally, I created the sound for my dance, recording piano improvisations and compositions with additional sound by a music major in my cast, Mav Leslie. This process has been deeply collaborative, and I am so grateful for my dancers and their hard work in this process.