Energy and Originality Infuse MCCC Student Performance with Battery Dance Company

2/4/10


West Windsor, N.J. - Dance student Hanna Bruskin admits she has never felt so tired or sore. "But it was worth it," she said of an intensive, three-day dance workshop that ran from Jan. 30-Feb. 1 at Mercer County Community College.

Her satisfaction was echoed by the 16 other students from the MCCC Dance program and the Mercer County Performing Arts High School (PAHS) who participated in "Dancing to Connect" with professional artists from Battery Dance Company (BDC), based in Lower Manhattan.

Their efforts culminated in day and evening performances at Kelsey Theatre on Feb. 2 featuring the original eight-minute dance they created, entitled "The Newspaper Piece." Their teachers were BDC dancers Bafana Matea and Mayuna Shimizu, who performed two additional pieces with members of their company.

MCCC faculty member Jody Person, the coordinator of the Theatre and Dance program, was gratified by the tremendous commitment of Matea and Shimizu and his students' total engagement in the process, which asked them to focus not only on technical mastery of the dance, but to dig deep to find ways to express themselves through movement.

Students included Alexandra Abraham, Alicia Ackerman, Eliza Bassett-Wilson, Ally Berger, Hanna Bruskin, Yvonne Clark, Trachelle Causey, Maleek Colvin, Charlene Jamison, Jaime Lisbona, Laura Murey, Brianne Scott, Jessica Shahinian, Ronnie Simon Jr., Lauren-Carmel Sirak and Scott Walters.

Battery Dance Company has presented its award-winning "Dancing to Connect" workshops to young people in Europe, Asia and Africa, but this marked the company's first visit to New Jersey, according to founder and choreographer Jonathan Hollander.

Addressing a welcoming audience of family, friends and dance fans prior to the evening performance, Hollander said, "This is our New Jersey debut. It's proved to be a warm place for us to be - just across the river. We have found so much talent here. What you are going to see is an original work and it just started on Saturday. I can't believe the result; it's fantastic."

Audience members appeared to agree, as they watched a performance infused with energy and creativity that left them cheering and applauding with appreciation. Also on the program were two original dances by BDC members with choreography by Hollander. Jody Person was a special guest dancer for BDC's final number, "I'll Take You There," a light-hearted, imaginary romp through the streets and classrooms of New York City, with music by Polarity/1.

"Our students have had the experience of collaborating with members of a professional New York company," Person said. "This is a unique opportunity that they embraced and from which they got the full benefit because they gave it one hundred percent. The collaborative piece they created was truly spectacular." Person expressed his appreciation to MCCC President, Dr. Patricia Donohue, who initially reached out to Battery Dance Company.

For more information about the MCCC Dance Program, click here. For the Theatre program, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Workshop participants following the performance,
front row from left, Yvonne Clark, Ally Berger (PAHS), Lauren-Carmel Sirak, Hanna Bruskin, Scott Walters, Trachelle
Causey and Jessica Shahinian (PAHS); back row, from left, Charlene Jamison, Maleek Colvin (PAHS), Jaime Lisbona (PAHS), Ronnie Simone Jr., and Alexandra Abraham.
BDC dancers, from left, Carmen Nicole, Bafana Matea,
Robin Cantrell and Sean Scantlebury perform "Where
There's Smoke" to music by Francis Poulenc.

MCCC's Jody Person (foreground) with BDC's Bafana Matea,
left, and Mayuna Shimizu during "I'll Take You There."
Teaching artists Bafana Matea (in white) and Mayuna Shimizu
(in purple) in rehearsal with MCCC Dance students, from left Ronnie Smith Jr., Trachelle Causey and Yvonne Clark.
"The Newspaper Piece" with students Ronnie Simon Jr.,
Hanna Bruskin, Trachelle Causey and Alicia Ackerman.
Working together in rehearsal, from left, Lauren-Carmel
Sirak, Ronnie Simon Jr., Alexandra Abraham, Hanna
Bruskin, Jessica Shahinian (PAHS) and Scott Walters.

 

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