Spotlight shines on Tisch alumnae’s choreography

March 3, 2014

Nomko Baatar for WSN

The Tisch School of Arts Department of Dance‘s Past/Forward 2014: Women at Work showing on Feb. 28 featured the works of seven different female choreographers, all of whom are Tisch alumnae.

Cherylyn Lavagnino, co-chair of the dance department, said it was a dream of hers to create an annual concert celebrating successful female Tisch dance choreographers.

“Women can often be underrepresented in the choreographic arena, particularly contemporary dance,” Lavagnino said.

While the concert was a part of a regular series in the Tisch Department of Dance, it was specifically designed to showcase the works of notable Tisch alumnae who went on to succeed in the world of dance and choreography.

“The alumnae were selected by our interest in the work they have made or are making currently,” Lavagnino said.

Many of the alumnae featured are already well-recognized in the world of dance and choreography, at both national and international levels.

“It’s exciting that so many of our graduates are active choreographers in the professional field,” Lavagnino said.

Selina Chau, who graduated from the Tisch Dance MFA program in 2010 and had her choreography featured in the concert, said many women have other priorities.

“I think we see fewer female dance choreographers not necessarily because we are less represented, but that women are more likely to spend time in motherhood after their dance career, so they have less time to concentrate on the choreographic path,” Chau said.

Chau said she drew inspiration for her piece from her time spent in New York City, and she contrasted this experience with her time spent with the Hong Kong ballet.

“My idea came from New York City, the rhythm, the pulse, the noise and the silence of this city together with the history of classical ballet,” Chau said. “Where does classical ballet stand in this city? And what is its artistic value now? … In Hong Kong, the dance scene is quite limited, so living here not only gives me the opportunity to experience different styles of dance, but also see the other arts.”

The concert featured a diverse set of pieces choreographed by Suzanne Beahrs, Rachel Hagan, Allison Schieler, Kristin Schwab and Chihiro Shimizu. Additionally, Second Avenue Dance Company, Tisch’s student dance company, performed a piece and Mary John Frank’s film “Contemporary Dance” was screened.

“Having so many different choreographers in one show was great because the audiences gets to see different styles in one evening,” Chau said. “I think it was a great opportunity for alumni to give each other support and share our artistic voice.”

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, March 3 print edition. Bailey Evans is a staff writer. Email her at features@nyunews.com.

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