WT Dancers Look Inside for Inspiration for ‘Falling into Dance’ Performances

Copy by Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124, [email protected]

CANYON, Texas — Dances inspired by family, injustice and the rhythm of life are on tap for a virtual dance concert by West Texas A&M University students.

The annual Falling into Dance performance will be streamed at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20 and 21. Tickets are $10 for the general public and free for WT faculty, staff and students; purchasers will get a link to watch the prerecorded performances.

The dance concert will feature three solo pieces choreographed and performed by senior dance majors as part of their capstone requirement — Raeann Davis of Rockwall, Kelly Mundell of Gunnison, Colo., and L’oreal Sylvester of Humble. The concert also will feature two ensemble pieces choreographed by WT alum Mariah Rome, a May 2020 graduate from Hugoton, Kan.

The virtual concert was made necessary by the ongoing pandemic and attendant COVID-19 safety precautions, which also impacted the way students rehearsed for the performance, said Crystal Bertrand, WT director of dance.

“It has been a challenge, but the students have really persevered through all of these new ways of learning,” Bertrand said.

Rome’s ensemble pieces feature solos, duos and trios — all performed a minimum of 6 feet apart.

The first — titled “406 W. 57th St., New York, New York, 10019, Apt. 23-B,” or “Apt. 23-B” for short — is Rome’s extrapolation of the various lives lived inside a New York City apartment, featuring tales of a single mom and her daughter, a struggling businessman and a divorcing couple, among others.

The second, “Aligned,” takes inspiration from the seven chakras, or focal points, used in meditation practices, including yoga.

“One dancer represents each chakra, which has really allowed them to get into character with specific intentions,” Rome said.

Both pieces were filmed by Amarillo videographer Schae Burley on location at the new Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences complex.

The three solo pieces were filmed by WT broadcasting student Jordan Unfred in the Happy State Bank Studio Theatre in the Sybil B. Harrington Fine Arts Complex.

Davis’ piece, “Resonate,” is a solo tap number “playing with rhythms you find throughout life — through the music that I just feel in my heart,” Davis said.

She was inspired by a common refrain of her first dance instructor, Sherri Fozkos of Rockwall: “No matter what happens, go back and find your rhythm.”

Mundell’s piece, “Something Human,” is set to Michael Jackson’s song “Will You Be There” and was inspired by her father’s love of ’80s music.

“I can’t help but groove when I hear this song, and it makes me feel joyful to be able to dance,” Mundell said. “This piece is for my family and is an expression of being able to dance in a world where some people would be grateful to have half as much.”

Sylvester’s work finds inspiration in more serious subject matter: the life and death of Kalief Browder, a young African-American man who was wrongfully arrested and spent three years behind bars on Rikers Island. His family wasn’t allowed to post bail for him, and after his eventual release, he struggled with mental health and eventually took his own life. He was featured in director Ava DuVernay’s Oscar-nominated documentary “13th,” and his death inspired changes at Rikers, including a ban on solitary confinement for youths in the system.

“His story, the injustice of it all, just resonated with me a lot,” Sylvester said. “That’s why I use a lot of resistance in my movements — because he was fighting so hard.”

A commitment to the arts is a key component of the University’s long-term plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

Box office hours are 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. For tickets, call 806-651-2804 or email [email protected].

About West Texas A&M University

WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. With enrollment of more than 10,000, WT offers 60 undergraduate degree programs, 38 master’s degrees and two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 15 men’s and women’s athletics programs.

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