“Ephemerality: Dances in Time” takes the stage with a live, socially-distanced premiere

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Photo courtesy of the Muhlenberg Department of Theatre & Dance

The Muhlenberg Dance Association and the theatre & dance department worked together to present “Ephemerality: Dances In Time,” which had a three-day premiere between April 16 and April 18. The event was an innovative showcase for new dance works by both student and faculty choreographers. It highlighted different aspects of chronology and ethereal energy through a variety of dance styles. 

Students showed up in droves to the Burkholder Quadrangle on all three evenings to reserve seats, as the event did not have a pre-registration process and seated guests on a first-come, first-served basis. The community was warned through a department memo in advance of the performance weekend that, “Advance seat reservations are generally not available to students…If seating under the tent fills, you are welcome to sit on the lawn outside the tent. Sight lines will vary.” Students were also told in the same memo to abide by COVID-19 guidelines during the performance, and that student volunteers and staff members would be present to enforce these guidelines.

“Ephemerality: Dances in Time” featured artistic direction from Randall Anthony Smith, assistant professor of dance, along with Amber Dietrich ‘21 and Arianna Tilley ‘22. Throughout the evening, guests were presented with a variety of choreographed dances by Muhlenberg students, including group numbers by Danielle Barrett ‘22, Caitlin Burns ‘21, Allison Goldman ‘22, Krista Grammerstorf ‘21, Charis Hall ‘22, Emily Leandro ‘22, Kate McCowan ‘22, Sarah O’Sullivan ‘22, Anvelyn Pi ‘21, Kalia Rucker ‘22 and Tilley. The pieces shown also included choreography from faculty members Heidi Cruz-Austin, visiting assistant professor of dance, Meredith Stapleton, adjunct professor of theatre and dance, and Nicole Hockenberry, adjunct professor of dance. There was one solo toward the middle of the program, which was performed and choreographed by Greyson Gerdts ‘21.

The program lasted roughly two hours and fifteen minutes, with the dance numbers divided into three acts of similar length, providing the audience two five-minute breaks to stretch.

The performance began with a showstopper, which immediately captivated the mesmerized audience with a meticulously-timed tap piece, in which the dancers began tapping a rhythm without music behind them, and seamlessly worked the music into the piece after a short time.

Additionally, a great deal of the pieces performed in “Ephemerality: Dances in Timedealt with themes having to do with the pandemic and a general feeling of isolation, and featured a variety of costumes and small set pieces which reflected this sentiment.

Technology also played a role in the progression of the performance, as two of the pieces performed were entirely digitally, to accommodate remote students involved in the production. In order to cohesively present these virtual pieces, guests were instructed at the beginning of the first and second acts to scan a QR code in the program, and watch the provided videos of the dances independently. The use of headphones was required for the enjoyment of all guests, which was well-outlined in the aforementioned preparatory memo emailed to all Theatre and Dance students.

“This concert is truly living up to its name on so many levels,” stated Randall Anthony Smith, the faculty advisor and artistic director for “Ephemerality,” in the director’s note. “The dance works hold an energy specific to the choreographers and how they connect to the construct of time — but the pieces also extend outward into the psychic spaces of the performers, as they unravel the fabric of time from their own perspective and identity.”

“Ephemerality felt like watching magic,” said dancer Lily Knowles ‘23. “A whole year stripped of being on stage and being in an audience made this performance incredibly beautiful and emotional.”

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