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Lewis Center for the Arts premieres Context Preconstructed


Marguerite d'Aprile-Smith    
Director of Communications
Lewis Center for the Arts

(Princeton, NJ) Princeton University senior Sydney Schiff, one of the mainstays of the Princeton dance community over the past four years, will present a senior creative thesis performance titled Context Preconstructed.  The program will feature Schiff’s epic choreographic collaboration with composer Vince di Mura and Schiff performing a solo  commissioned by New York City based choreographer Lindsey Dietz Marchant. Context Preconstructed opens Thursday, May 6 at 8:00 p.m. in the Patricia and Ward Hagan ’48 Dance Studio at the Lewis Center for the Arts at 185 Nassau Street. Additional performances will be held on May 7 at 8:00 p.m. and May 8 at 2:00 and 8:00 p.m. All performances are free and open to the public.

Schiff, a History of Science major and Certificate student in the Program in Dance, wrote her senior thesis on the history of dance medicine and aesthetics, and elected to pursue a second creative thesis in dance. Context Preconstructed is the culmination of not only four years of emersion in dance at Princeton but also of nearly two decades of devoted study of the art form.  “In particular,” Schiff said, “the work reflects an intense period of self-reflection and personal exploration of both professional dance and Judaism that I pursued over the last four years.  This very much reflects how I, as an individual, was completely transformed by the Princeton community.” 

Schiff’s choreography evolved over a year of exploration and collaboration.  Throughout the fall semester, Schiff held weekly workshops that were open to a select group of 30 undergraduate dancers.  Of those 30 students, 10 chose to work intensively throughout the spring semester and will be featured in the performance.  These student dancers include: Ray Auduong ’13, A.J. Brannum ’13, Tiffany Cheezem ’12, Mayanne Chess ’12, Rivka Cohen ’12, Courtney Crumpler ’13, Katy Dammers ’13, Alta du Pont ’13, Daniel Gilday ’11 and Yael Nachajon ’12.  The cast ranges from highly trained classical dancers to swimmers, martial artists and accomplished singers, a few of whom are appearing in a Lewis Center production for the first time.

Last summer Schiff received the Alex Adam ’07 Award, the Lewis Center’s most prestigious student award, which enabled Schiff to pursue her creative research during the summer of 2009 that led to the development of her creative thesis.  Schiff received additional funding from the Dean of the College to commission an original solo by New York City-based choreographer Lindsey Dietz Marchant. Dietz Marchant’s choreography has been seen in New York at Dance Theater Workshop, Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church, The Duke Theater, Dixon Place and Dance New Amsterdam among many others. Her recent awards and commissions include a new work for Dance New Amsterdam, half of the room; a commission from Danspace Project, Inflatable Man, Evaporating Woman; and commissions for new work for the resident dance company at the Isadora Festival in Siberia, Russia. Dietz Marchant has taught at universities and art conservatories including Juilliard School of Performing Arts, SUNY Purchase and Bennington College, and teaches regularly at Dance New Amsterdam in NYC.

The Lewis Center for the Arts is part of a major initiative announced by President Shirley M. Tilghman in 2006 to fully embrace the arts as an essential part of the educational experience for all who study and teach at Princeton University. The Lewis Center for the Arts will have a significant impact on the University and the larger community it serves. The public is welcomed to a full range of lectures, exhibitions, concerts and performances at the Center. Many of the Center’s events are free or charge a nominal admission fee.

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