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Work of Appalachian professor and student staged for first time during gala concert of the American College Dance Association’s regional conference

By University Communications

BOONE, N.C.—This past March, dancers from Appalachian State University performed a work by one of their professors and another by a fellow student during the gala concert of the most recent American College Dance Association’s regional conference. The presentations marked the first time that Appalachian has had work staged at the gala concert since its students and faculty began attending the association’s regional conference in 2009.

View larger imageDancers perform in Juliet Irving’s work “From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried” at the Spring 2016 Appalachian Dance Ensemble. The piece was selected to be performed at the gala concert of this year’s ACDA conference after adjudication. Photo by Lynn WillisView larger imageDancers perform in Cara Hagan’s tap piece “Tiny Potato on the Train” at the Spring 2016 Appalachian Dance Ensemble. Her piece was also adjudicated and selected for the gala concert at the ACDA regional conference. Photo by Lynn Willis

The gala concert featured 10 works chosen by conference adjudicators. The ones with ties to Appalachian were “Tiny Potato on the Train,” by Assistant Professor of Dance Studies Cara Hagan, and “From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried,” which was choreographed by Juliet Irving, a junior dance studies and graphic design double major from Batesburg, South Carolina. All told, 36 works were adjudicated at the conference, which took place March 15-18 in Charlotte.

“We take our dancers to ACDA each year to broaden their collective experiences through dance classes and seminars taught by outstanding regional artists, and through the adjudication of their choreographic work by nationally recognized choreographers and dance scholars,” said Kevin Warner, who chairs Appalachian’s Department of Theatre and Dance. “When student and faculty work is selected from three dozen pieces for the final gala concert, it is a particular honor and icing on the cake.”

The 2016 Spring Appalachian Dance Ensemble first staged “Tiny Potato” and “From Here I Saw.”

“Tiny Potato” is a rhythm tap dance piece. “From Here I Saw” is a response to various aspects of the African-American experience.

“The goal was to highlight the historical aspects of tap, including battles, stealing and sharing of steps and improv,” Hagan said of “Tiny Potato.” “I knew the piece would be different since many works at the conference are modern, and the piece highlighted dancers interacting with each other and not the audience.”

As for “From Here I Saw,” inspired by dancer Donald McKayle and artist Carrie Mae Weems, it draws on Irving’s considerations of the past and present for African-Americans and on the repetitive nature of their experience within American society.

“I was tired and frustrated with what’s going on in society, and my dancers are experiencing that as a community,” Irving said. “They can’t escape the circularity of their experience.”

Both Hagan and Irving were thrilled that adjudicators selected their work for the concert, and they expressed pride in their dancers.

“I was surprised because of all of the strong pieces we saw,” said Irving. “Being chosen for the gala was an honor.”

Warner echoed these sentiments.

“Our success is a great credit to the students, and to the outstanding faculty of our growing dance studies program here at Appalachian,” he said.

About the Department of Theatre and Dance

The Department of Theatre and Dance is one of seven departments housed in Appalachian’s College of Fine and Applied Arts. Its mission is to facilitate transformative experiences for students and the public, which cultivate compassionate, creative and collaborative communities through theatre and dance. The department also offers coursework for integrated learning through the arts to the general university student population. Its dynamic co-curricular production program provides exemplary theatre and dance experiences to departmental students, the university community and the region.

About Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 18,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.

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