Muhlenberg College dancers explore personal experiences and narratives through movement, as the Muhlenberg Theatre & Dance Department presents “Reset: New Dances,” Dec. 1-3 in the college’s Baker Theatre.
“One of the major themes of ‘Reset: New Dances’ is this questioning of what dance has been and what dance can be,” says artistic director Natalie Gotter, a member of Muhlenberg’s dance faculty. “The dancers have a wide range of interests — and putting these interests on the stage really allows the audience to know more about who our students are and how they approach the field of dance.”
Working closely with the 10 student choreographers, Gotter has witnessed firsthand the ways they are investigating their experiences through their dance works.
“What really excites me about working with this community is getting to see all different perspectives,” Gotter says. “Our dancers bring a huge variety of backgrounds and movement perspectives to this process. I get to see how we, as a community, are thinking about dance — which is really exciting to be a part of.”
Along with the unique movement profiles, Gotter emphasizes the wide range of genres that audiences will see, including tap, hip-hop, jazz, contemporary, modern, and improvisation. The works will explore a variety of themes, such as partnership and friendship, sleep cycle research, and even corporate business culture.
Choreographer Bella Pansera ’23 was inspired to create her piece after studying abroad in Italy. The experience provoked consideration of what it means to call a place “home.” Their collaborative work explores this concept from the dancers’ perspectives, using physical objects.
“Every few months I have to recreate home in a new place,” Pansera says, “so the piece is also exploring what it means to do that.”
In her modern piece, choreographer Nicola Ferro ’23 investigates self-care through movement. As a dancer with a chronic illness, Ferro explores her own approach to movement and the work she does every day to alleviate tension and pain. She encourages her dancers to explore their own practices of self-care through choreographic phrases.
“I’m really interested in reimagining the way we consume dance,” Ferro says. “This piece is really about the dancer’s experience — it’s more of a ritual that we are inviting an audience to be part of than it is a dance that’s being performed for the audience.”
Choreographer Dani Medvedovski ’24 derives influence for her work from the recent loss of her grandfather. The piece explores both the heartbreak and the sense of community that can emerge from grief.
“It provides an alternate perspective on sadness and how it has potential to generate isolation and numbness, but also community and reconnection,” says Medvedovski.
Other featured choreographers include Ruthy Freeberg ’23, Emma Giordano ’23, Marissa Haluch ’23, Riley Hammett ’24, Lily Knowles ’23, Claire Spenard ’23, and Des Suarez ’23. Marissa Cohen ’25 serves as the associate artistic director. Paul E. Theisen Jr. designs lights, and Kiana Grella ’23 designs costumes.
“Reset: New Dances” runs Dec. 1-3 in the Baker Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for Theatre & Dance, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown.
Performances are Thursday and Friday, Dec. 1-2, at 8 p.m.; and Saturday, Dec. 3, at 2 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults; $8 for patrons 17 and under; and $8 for students, faculty and staff of all LVAIC colleges.
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