In late July, Dr. Cynthia Nazzaro, professor of dance, was brainstorming on central ideas her dancers could work with for their final performance of the fall semester. Nazzaro was thinking big picture and recent events that were relevant to Springfield College and to the area.
Unfortunately for the school and the surrounding area, the most relevant and recent issue that has happened is the tornado that hit Springfield on June 1st. With that, Nazzaro decided to take the dancers’ performances in that direction and named the show Tornadoes, Dances, and Other Matters of the Heart.
“As Artistic Director, I felt strongly that our community would benefit from a concert that expressed the feelings around such trauma,” said Nazzaro. “For the most part, I believe we were very successful.”
While Nazzaro was in Italy with her students on the Umbria Institute study abroad program in Perugia, Italy when the tornado hit Springfield, she and her students felt the immediate affects from the tornado even though they were miles away from home.
“Even there, we felt devastated by the news and had trouble sleeping,” Nazzaro said.
When she met with all of her faculty choreographers after she returned from the trip each and everyone agreed that focusing on the devastating tornado for the final performance would be the best way for the dancers to respond to the tragedy.
While Nazzaro and her choreographers had their idea, it was time to put it all together.
This semester Nazzaro decided to put together a pick-up dance company. Fourteen students were selected for the performance via an audition process. Most dancers participated in multiple numbers, but not all dancers were members of SC Dancers or part of other organized dance groups.
“All were required to take [a] regular company class to build their technique, stamina and artistic expression,” said Nazzaro.
Once the early September auditions were set in stone, Nazzaro, the faculty choreographers and the student dancers extensively worked on the program for several hours a week.
“[We worked for] approximately four to six hours per piece each week,” Nazzaro said. “The results are clearly demonstrated in the high level we achieved.”
While Nazzaro and her faculty choreographers, such as Michelle Marroquin, put together most of the pieces, there was much collaboration between the choreographers and the student dancers. Throughout the creative process of putting the pieces together, Nazzaro noticed that the input the students were giving helped them grow into more respected and hardworking performers.
“The students worked very hard and delved deeply into the material. It seems they grew as dancers [and] performers before our very eyes,” she said.
After months of getting pieces together, working hard in rehearsals, and figuring out costumes, music and lighting, Tornadoes, Dances, and Other Matters of the Heart was ready to make its Fuller Arts Center debut.
With three performances this past weekend, Nazzaro was very pleased with the outcome.
“I would say that the program flow was my favorite part. The tone of each work built nicely off of the one before and after it,” Nazzaro said. “Even [the] music, costuming, [and] sets and movement style [were] complementary, and I believe very successful.”
The pieces were full of passion and dedication, and the overlying theme of the entire production was represented well with an emotional and psychological approach.
“I think this is some of the best work we have ever done,” said Nazzaro.
Between the theme of the performances, the choreography, and the students involved in the program, the outcome of the show proved to be a great success.
Gabby DeMarchi may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org