Choreographers’ Showcase highlights work of emerging local choreographers

This blog post is by Emily Schweich, a sophomore Broadcast Journalism major.

Stephanie Miracle

Stephanie Miracle photo by Steven Schreiber

Seven choreographers – showcasing many styles of dance -- will present their work this Saturday at the 31st Annual Choreographers’ Showcase in collaboration with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. The showcase features solos, duets and small ensembles.

This year, five of the seven choreographers selected are current students or alums from the University of Maryland School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS). I spoke with one choreographer, third-year MFA Dance student Stephanie Miracle, about the inspiration for her work and how the showcase is important to her.

Miracle’s performance, a duet with independent dancer Kate Folsom, has a curious title – “Fork.”

“I’m intrigued by the title,” Miracle said. She describes “Fork” as “a condensed, movie trailer-sized version” of her upcoming MFA Thesis Concert, “Pleated,” which will be performed in March.

“Both pieces are looking at sisterhood and relationships from girlhood [and] also how they’re related to relationships as adults,” Miracle said. She said that her personal history inspired her work, as she remembered making up dances in the living room as a child with her two younger sisters.

“Both in ‘Pleated’ and ‘Fork,’ I’m looking at something coming from the same fabric or material and then splitting off into different pieces,” Miracle said. “So with ‘Pleated,’ you have individual sections that are gathered together but still part of the same fabric, and with ‘Fork,’ you have one piece that separates into different paths or different prongs.”

Miracle will not perform in her own thesis concert, and she found that she missed the performance aspect. “I had a strong desire to physically be a part of it and to be inside the dance,” she said. Performing in “Fork” gives her that opportunity.

“Fork” comes from a postmodern style of dance. “It has high physicality because there’s some athleticism to the dancing,” Miracle said, “but there’s also a pedestrian vocabulary where the gestures and movements are very everyday, taken from life.” The dance also features spontaneous improvised talking that is not meant to be understood by the audience, creating a texture of “jabbering” that overlaps the dancing.

Miracle said that being selected for the showcase was a great honor and found the adjudication process beneficial. Guest adjudicators Zvi Gotheiner and Sidra Bell, both renowned dance teachers in New York, provided written feedback for the choreographers after auditions. “I found that incredibly useful and generous,” said Miracle, who hopes to use this feedback in future projects.

The rehearsal process for “Fork” has been unusually short – only a few months. But Miracle finds that her education at the University of Maryland has helped her to dive into the project.

“My mentors Sara Pearson and Patrik Widrig . . . have encouraged a courageous, bold way of putting an idea out there and seeing what happens,” Miracle said. “Because the process was so fast, I felt like I really had to put that into practice – just go with an idea . . . and see what happens as opposed to overthinking it.”

Miracle looks forward to performing her own work and to seeing the work by other choreographers. “The opportunity to perform is such a gift,” she said. “I’m excited to hear people’s responses so I can take the work further . . . and to see and support other artists . . . . The program as far as I know is a really strong showcase, and it’s a delight to be working alongside those artists.”

The Choreographers’ Showcase will be held in the Dance Theatre of the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 3PM and 8PM.