Senior dance majors showcase choreography, premiere new work


Lexy Praeger/The Daily Northwestern

Performers rehearse for this weekend’s performance of CROSSROADS, the senior dance show. The show will feature a new piece choreographed by visiting professor Corinne Imberski.

Rachel Holtzman, Reporter


For the first — most likely last — time, this year’s three senior dance majors will dance together onstage at Northwestern. The trio will exhibit their best choreography and performances this weekend at CROSSROADS, this year’s senior dance concert, which also features the world premiere of a piece choreographed by visiting professor Corinne Imberski.

The showcase, which serves as the senior capstones for Communication seniors Hillary Aarons, Jacinda Ratcliffe and Katherine Scott, features seven choreographed pieces. Each student choreographed two pieces, three of which are rewrites of original pieces that have premiered throughout the school year.

The three seniors will also dance together in a final piece choreographed by visiting professor Corinne Imberski. The piece, called “how to exit gracefully,” highlights their experiences as dancers and students as they prepare to leave Northwestern.

“I wanted to create a piece that really highlighted … those conflicted feelings when you’re taking leave of a place you love, but you need to move on, as well as how we can make a lasting impression,” Imberski said.

Imberski said that the piece is definitely modern, but pulls from many different kinds of training and movement vocabulary she’s studied and developed over time. The piece is diverse, allowing for each student to dance in her style, while still showing how well they work together and “how much compassion they show to each other,” she said.

The three dancers start the piece all in their own worlds, and then their paths eventually converge. Using elements of modern dance, gestural movement and partner work, the dancers come together, with moves that are full-bodied and dynamic, Aarons said.

“The movement itself is very breathy,” Scott said, “and it’s this idea that we get swept up, but know we have a core foundation of having each other.”

Ratcliffe and Scott said this is the first piece in which all three of them have danced together.

“The show’s really special because it really is the culmination of what has been an incredible four years in the program, and especially for the three of us,” Ratcliffe said. “We’re friends, but we’ve also collaborated with each other before and been in many artistic processes together. It celebrates each of our individual journeys.”

Through rehearsals and collaboration, Imberski and the students were able to infuse their own insights into the piece’s partner work, just as they did with the rest of the show. Imberski said a lot of the partnering movement was created on the spot so that the dancers could go with the natural flow of the choreography.

In both Imberski’s work and their own choreographed pieces, the students said they were able to showcase their individual talents.

“We’ve spent four years exploring ourselves as performers and choreographers, and you can see the distinct voices in all of us,” Ratcliffe said. “It ranges from gestural movement to more abstract movement to super theatrical stuff. There’s a huge range that feels very specific to each of our personalities.”

The performers said the entire Senior Dance Concert is heavily based in modern dance, but the pieces each student choreographed are influenced by their styles, from Aarons’ use of gestural movement and dance comedy, to Ratcliffe’s preference for using physicality and athletics to create emotional drama, to Scott’s love of theatrical and abstract styles.

All three dancers said the NU dance faculty had a positive influence on their performances and experiences over the years. Aarons said most of what she’s taken away from the show has been a celebration of what she’s learned from the dance faculty and community on campus.

“For me,” she said, “it’s as much of a celebration of what I created as it is what the community has allowed for me to create and collaborated with me on.”

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