‘Ephemerality: Dances In Time’ dance concert celebrates return to live performance, showcases work by student and faculty

Innovative outdoor dance performance, April 16-18, marks one of the first live dance performances in over a year at Muhlenberg

By: Ashley Veglia '21  Wednesday, April 7, 2021 01:36 PM

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Muhlenberg College dancers share their creativity through movement, as the Muhlenberg Dance Program and the Muhlenberg Dance Association collaborate to present “Ephemerality: Dances In Time,” a showcase for dance works created by student and faculty choreographers, April 16-18.

The concert marks a return to the stage for most Muhlenberg dancers; it follows last month’s Senior Dance Showcase as just the second live dance performance at Muhlenberg since February 2020 — and the first to feature all four class years.

“Ephemerality” will be performed in an outdoor tent on the Muhlenberg campus, Friday through Sunday at 6 p.m. daily. It will be performed in the round, with audience members socially distanced on all sides of the stage. Seating is general admission, open only to Muhlenberg students, faculty, and staff. Other patrons can request access to a video of the performance as soon as it becomes available. Admission — both in-person and online — is free.

“This concert is truly living up to its name on so many levels,” says Randall Anthony Smith, the concert’s artistic director and faculty advisor. “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.”

Smith is working alongside two student artistic directors, Amber Dietrich ’21 and Arianna Tilley ’22, who will both also be performing and choreographing in this concert.

“The show is a testament to the way that creativity has been fueled under the difficult and unimagined circumstances of the past year,” Dietrich says. “But it also provides a sense of comfort by offering a space for our community to come back together to make and share such powerful art.”

Tilley has been studying remotely from her hometown this semester. She’s holding rehearsals for her piece entirely online.

“It’s been a blessing because I can get the dancers out into the world and dance in spaces that evoke memories for them,” Tilley says. “It has been both touching and uplifting to watch the entire dance community come together to create something new and beautiful.”

“Ephemerality: Dances In Time” will showcase the work of 12 student and three faculty choreographers, and will feature more than 60 dancers from the department’s dance program, among the most highly regarded programs of its kind.

The 15 original dances feature styles inspired by contemporary modern, various jazz idioms, ballroom fusion, and contemporary ballet, and will include two pieces performed virtually.

Faculty choreographer Meredith Stapleton '13 derives influence for her piece from the many pandemic-related artistic shifts that she has undergone over the past year. Rather than simply sharing movement, she says, this piece documents self, time and growth.

“I spent a lot more time alone, dancing alone, and thinking about performance without much of an audience,” Stapleton says. “Then I got pregnant, and realized I was no longer alone. This has brought up a sea of curious, rather existential questions, which I will be happy to explore for the rest of my life. For this project, I was inspired to explore these inquiries within a group piece for solo artists.”

Choreographer Kate McCowan ’22 created a piece that explores various sensations of time that she has felt throughout the past year, which she identifies as “urgency, expansiveness, and suspension” of time.

“Because we’ve been virtual since last spring, many of the dancers are working together for the first time, and it’s been so exciting to see their vibrancy as a group,” she says. “I hope that this piece will highlight their individuality as they develop physicalizations of these three distinct sensations within time.”

Choreographer Sarah O’Sullivan ’22 explores the escapism she finds as she becomes engrossed in her favorite book or film realm, which she hopes will share joy among the dancers and the audience members.

“I was inspired by the experience of using media and books as a way to travel to different worlds during a time when physical travel was not possible,” O’Sullivan says. “Becoming a part of these romanticized, idealized, escapist worlds often creates a sense of delight and solace. I wanted to create a jazz-ballet infused piece of work which reflects these feelings.”

“Ephemerality: Dances In Time” runs April 16-18 outdoors on Muhlenberg’s campus, 2400 Chew St., Allentown.

Live performances are Friday through Sunday, April 16-18, at 6 p.m. daily. Off-campus patrons can request access to a video of the performance, available a few days after the show, at muhlenberg.edu/seeashow. General admission is free. Tickets are not required, but patrons must have their Muhlenberg ID.

More information is available at muhlenberg.edu/seeashow.

About the Muhlenberg College Theatre & Dance Department
Muhlenberg offers Bachelor of Arts degrees in theatre and dance. The Princeton Review ranked Muhlenberg’s theatre program in the top twelve in the nation for eight years in a row, and Fiske Guide to Colleges lists both the theatre and dance programs among the top small college programs in the United States. Muhlenberg is one of only eight colleges to be listed in Fiske for both theatre and dance.

About Muhlenberg College
Founded in 1848, Muhlenberg is a highly selective, private liberal arts college offering baccalaureate and graduate programs. With an enrollment of nearly 2,000 students, Muhlenberg College is dedicated to shaping creative, compassionate, collaborative leaders through rigorous academic programs in the arts, humanities, natural sciences and social sciences; selected preprofessional programs, including accounting, business, education and public health; and progressive workforce-focused post-baccalaureate certificates and master’s degrees. Located in Allentown, Pennsylvania, approximately 90 miles west of New York City, Muhlenberg is a member of the Centennial Conference, competing in 23 varsity sports. Muhlenberg is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.