By Collin Atwood
It’s easy to see how far our society is drifting from unity. The constant instances of social injustice and the scare of new COVID variants is putting a divide between everyone. It’s impossible for everyone to agree, but it can surely be better than this.
The chances of a small college fixing the country are slim, but Springfield College has always given tremendous effort when trying to bring the community together. Springfield has hosted marches, organized public speeches and even changed our education to unite us.
This weekend, the message remains the same, but through dance.
The William Simpson Fine Arts Series at Springfield College is ready to present their fall dance concert and the theme is all about uniting everyone — or, in another word, “CommUnity.” Sarah Zehnder, Assistant Professor and Director of Dance at Springfield College, thought of the idea hoping that everyone could come together as one.
“Dance is one of those ways, I believe, that can bring people together in a really special way to address different issues happening within our community,” Zehnder said.
A big reason why this performance will be successful in uniting us is because all of the choreographers bring something special to the table. They have all come from different walks of life and every single one of them is supportive of the message.
“I think all of us are really like-minded in the sense that we understand the importance of community and this idea of coming together,” Zehnder said.
The performance will include choreographed pieces from two Springfield dance faculty members, Kodee Van Nort and Jennifer Polins. Van Nort has created a contemporary ballet piece, and Polins’ piece contains guided improvisation.
The performance also includes pieces of work from Darrell Grand Moultrie, Tatiana Desardouin and Alan Franco.
Moultrie has had his work performed at the Juilliard School, countless ballets across America and he has also choreographed for Beyonce’s “Mrs. Carter World Tour.” He created a new piece that dancers from Springfield College will be premiering at the concert.
Desardouin is a professional dancer who is also the founder of Passion Fruit Dance Company, a company that encourages dancers to express their feelings about social issues through dance. She has partnered with a musical artist to create a hip-hop and house piece for the show.
Franco is a dancer from Mexico City and he built the first salsa and bachata dance community not too far away in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. He will be premiering a cuban-salsa piece, but this is not Franco’s first time on campus.
Earlier in the semester, Franco came to Springfield to teach students and their families different dance styles like salsa, bachata, and merengue.
Zehnder has also provided a unique experience for some of her dancers through her New York City and Massachusetts based company, Zehnder Dance. Professional dancers from her company are coming to the show to perform a piece that will involve four students from Springfield.
“They’re getting the chance to work with professionals in the field as well as be involved in the creation of this piece,” Zehnder said.
These students aren’t the only people from Springfield College who will be involved in this piece. Alexandra Ludwig, associate professor of music at Springfield College, has created an original song that she will be singing as part of the performance with Zehnder Dance.
The success of this show lies in the hands of many individuals, but that’s what Zehnder is relying on. She wants a group of people to come together and make this three-day event an unforgettable one.
“I really want to just bring people together, in person, and help remind people that we as individuals are all connected and have important roles to play within our communities,” Zehnder said.
“We all impact one another in ways we may never know, and we have the power to invoke positive change within our communities if we work together.”
There will be three showings of this concert with the first being on Friday, Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m. Saturday’s show will also be at 7:30 p.m. followed by a Q&A with the dancers and choreographers.
Sunday’s show will be at 3:30 p.m. and every performance will take place at the Appleton Auditorium in the Fuller Arts Center.
Photo Courtesy Springfield College