The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

Senior dance concert “Myriads” captures student memories through movement

Courtesy / Darren Breen

At Grand Valley State University, some dance students are putting on their senior dance concert, titled “Myriads.” The show will feature dance creations about formative and personal life experiences.

This semester, there are seven seniors in the dance major taking their capstone class, DAN-495 Senior Project. The course asks students to choreograph two pieces, one a group piece and the other a solo. Students hold auditions to cast dancers for their pieces, hold rehearsals weekly, design lighting, do a professional-style photoshoot, fundraise and more. To showcase choreography and creativity, the concert includes multiple performances to conclude senior dancers’ experiences at GVSU.

Senior Carly O’Donohue explained how she began her pieces for the concert.

“I am a visual planner, so I started writing a lot of my thoughts and ideas and I used Pinterest to look for inspiration there,” O’Donohue said. 

O’Donohue said she didn’t fully know her plans until she cast her dancers, relying on her love for storytelling and creating to fuel her pieces. Once she had an idea of what she wanted, O’Donohue looked next to music.

“Music plays a huge role in dance,” O’Donohue said. “Especially when you are trying to convey a certain story.” 

O’Donohue’s group piece is about “loving someone who is struggling through life and just wanting to protect (them) from the bad.” Her piece follows two humans who share a deep connection, with one of them constantly being “tossed around” by the other dancers who represent the hardships of life. 

From her years in the dance program at GVSU, O’Donohue had a list of artists she admired that she looked to for inspiration as well. O’Donohue largely credits her success in her piece to the collaborative process with her cast, who “showed up every rehearsal with ideas and the willingness to create together.” 

To O’Donohue, the most challenging aspect of the capstone project was her solo. Most dance majors choose to choreograph a solo and a group piece to be performed in their senior concert. She admits that she procrastinated on this piece, and often struggled with believing in the ideas she had.

“I didn’t feel like my idea was good enough until almost halfway through the semester,” O’Donohue said. “It is just very challenging being by myself, in a studio with a mirror staring back at me.”

In the end, her solo became a “confrontational” story about wishing for time to slow down and that it’s okay to not know what the future holds.

Senior dance major Hannah Kunkel said it was intimidating to start from scratch when choreographing their two pieces. To help ease into the process, Kunkel worked through the choreography in chunks.

“Going bit by bit helped me focus and not get overwhelmed by a big picture or final project,” Kunkel said.

The inspiration for their group piece originally came from the Willie Nelson album, “The Red Beaded Stranger.” Kunkel was inspired by the vintage Western sound when learning about music history in class last summer. Their group piece specifically is about their experience in the queer community.

“I wanted to combine historical and contemporary queer experiences in a way that can resonate with a diverse audience,” Kunkel said.

Their solo, also a personal story, is about dancing with a chronic injury and the uncertain future it presents. Kunkel also admitted their solo reflects the sadness they feel closing this chapter at GVSU.

“The joy and excitement I feel for these milestones are beginning to be overturned by the sadness of the endings I face,” Kunkel said. “I am using my solo as a vessel to take in my last performance with GVDD.” 

Both O’Donohue and Kunkel are grateful for the dance program.

“The dance program has brought me my forever best friends,” O’Donohue said.

Kunkle said the dance program has a community where “you can find the people you truly connect with and know will be there to support you.” 

This year’s performances take place on April 12, at 7 p.m., and April 13 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. The performances will be held at the Haas Center for Performing Arts Dance Studio Theatre, Room 1600. Admissions for this event is free.

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