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Seniors Perform a Thesis Production of 'Dance Quanta'

(Princeton, NJ) Among the first graduating class of the Peter B. Lewis Center for the Arts are four gutsy senior certificate students in the Program in Theater and Dance. They are among the few Princeton undergraduates who take on a second thesis that involves choreographing, performing and producing an evening of dance.  Jessica Baylan, Jillian Olsen, Hans Rinderknecht and Francine Saunders will present “Dance Quanta” on Friday and Saturday, April 18th and 19th at 8 p.m. at the Berlind Theatre, McCarter Theatre Center, Princeton. The dance performance is presented by the Lewis Center for the Arts, Program in Theater and Dance.

All students entered Princeton’s dance program in their freshman year with unique dance backgrounds. An ecology and evolutionary biology major with certificates in neuroscience and theater and dance, Baylan, dancing since she was three years old, has trained in ballet, modern and jazz.  Olsen was a competitive gymnast for 12 years and trained in jazz, tap and ballet.  Rinderknecht began taking dance classes at Princeton his freshman year, following a trajectory from theater through yoga, tai-chi and capoeira.  Saunders did liturgical dance for two years in Florida, but did not receive formal training until arriving at Princeton.  Over the last few years, the four seniors have been cultivating their personal artistic styles through courses in choreography, repertory, technique, dance history and theory in addition to performing in faculty and guest choreographer works. Their thesis production promises to be a reflection of each choreographer’s unique creative process and distinctive aesthetics and will feature 12 dances that range from solos to a dance for 14.

Baylan’s solo, “Against the Grain,” portrays a woman who attempts to assert ownership of space in a rigid maze of lights.  Baylan will also perform “Journey,” which drew instructions and structure from a computer program developed by Penny Enomoto (senior in the Computer Science Department) based on Rudoph Laban’s motif notation.  Baylan’s new dance for 14 explores the process of developing relationships with other individuals of very different origins.

Olsen’s first solo draws on her experience with many different forms of dance and seeks out common threads between them. Her second piece, “Count Me,” set to music by Mark Isham and the dramatic drums of ZE’V, is a fast-paced group dance that explores the dynamics between different numbers of people. The seniors chose Olsen, a comparative politics major, to choreograph a dance for the four of them. It is a lighthearted look at the ’80s generation, inspired loosely by the iconic film “The Breakfast Club.”

Rinderknecht, a physics major, has designed a shape-shifting icosahedron that provides a physical manifestation of his personal kinesphere.  Inspired by the ”tensegrity” work of Buckminster Fuller and its relationship to the human musculo-skeletal system, this dynamically changeable set demands a re-imagination of the dancer's personal space and sense of orientation.  Hans has also enlisted his brother, Juilliard-trained percussionist Luke Rinderknecht, to compose music for the piece based in an icosophonic (20 note) scale, which has required the creation of a dedicated instrument for the recording process.  In addition to this piece, Rinderknecht will present two additional works: a duet with sophomore Sydney Schiff, focusing on weight-sharing and conflict in close relationships, and a reworked version of his final creative project from Dance 321, Music and Dance Collaborations in the 20th Century, taught by Simon Morrison, Associate Professor of Music, and Rebecca J. Lazier, Associate Head of Dance.  This dance explores the effect of modified durations and distances on audience perception, through choreography and a musical score he has manipulated himself.

Saunders will perform a solo, “Alive,” which was choreographed by former faculty member Meghan Durham Wall.  The fast-paced solo explores the tension of running from/toward external expectations and the ultimate acceptance of living fully as oneself. This; theme resonates with the graduating senior. She will also perform a comical solo to Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries,” in which she finds a musical score, consumes it and is then consumed by it.  Through the music, she is transported to a world of riding horses and slaying demons.  While the audience may chuckle, she also hopes to challenge the composer’s racist ideology. Her third piece, “Tick-Tock”, a dance for eight, draws from her experience as a second semester senior and asks what is it to be a slave to time.  This is a phenomenon that is steeped in many cultures and especially present in the environment at Princeton.  In the end, she hopes to encourage people to “stop and smell the roses.”
Tickets are $15 for general admission, $10 for students and seniors and $5 for children. All tickets are available through the McCarter Ticket Box Office at 609.258.2787.

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.

Event Information

Dance Quanta ›

Media Contact

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

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