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Thursday, Apr 18, 2024

Dance Partners the Strange and the Beautiful

Author: Lanford Beard

On April 19 and 20, Sean Hoskins '02 premiered his senior independent project "Study Me Like This" at the Center for the Arts Dance Theater.

Displaying both the strange and the beautiful facets of dance, Hoskins' show proved a delightful experience for audiences and dancers alike.

The show included two separate acts, the first presenting pieces choreographed by Dance Artist-in-Residence Amy Chavasse and Visiting Assistant Professor in Dance Peter Schmitz. The second half of the performance showcased Hoskins' choreography.

Created by Schmitz, Hoskins' mentor, the first piece was entitled "When I'm Not Remembering You Right." During this debut performance, several projections appeared behind dancers Hoskins, Chavasse, Devon Parish '05 and Emily Price '01.5 as they each danced individual phrases indicative of the lyrical poetry that Chavasse and Hoskins recited.

Next came Amy Chavasse's "Paradise," which was an intentionally bizarre and whimsical piece. Laughter was unavoidable as Hoskins confusedly walked around with a pair of cymbals and Nicole LeBoeuf '02 impatiently vied for his attention.

The quintet of Hoskins, David Moan '04, LeBoeuf, Kate Prouty '02.5 and Jacci Snyder '05 performed this piece in February at the New England Regional American College Dance Festival at Boston University.

After a brief pause in the program, Hoskins' work took center stage. Overall, Hoskins' choreography was much more accessible and riveting as the dancers expressed at once a sense of yearning and detachment, synchronicity and personality.

His first piece, "Nearing You," featured Hoskins and Prouty dancing in front of the shadows of dancers Greg Berberian '03 and Ellen Smith '05 that were silhouetted from behind a backdrop. Set over an original musical collage and the pulse of a skipping record, the piece essentially conveyed emotion through movement.

Evoking Plato's shadow fable "The Cave," Hoskins and Prouty neared and distanced themselves from each other while the shadow figures of Berberian and Smith expressed their internal dialogue through a melancholy pas de deux.

Next came "When We Align," Hoskins' longest piece featuring Berberian, LeBoeuf, Smith, Snyder and Owen Strock'03. Choreographed to a violin quartet by Scott Lindroth, this number primarily explored physical dimensions of both individual and shared experience as the dancers partially moved with their own refrains while frequently joining together in a moving chorus.

Indisputably, the most powerful elements of the piece occurred as the dancers moved in unison, delineating the clarity and force of the medium of dance when applied correctly.

Hoskins' choreography revealed a firm grip on individual and group dynamics, and also his experience both with the art and the emotion shone through in the dance.

Selected for performance at Washington, D.C.'s Kennedy Center as part of the National College Dance Festival on May 15, Hoskins' fitting finale, "So, We Pivot," is perhaps his most renowned dance piece so far.

The trio of Hoskins, Prouty and Snyder provided a powerful finish to the performance.

As in all his other pieces, Hoskins offered his deep connection with both rhythmic and personal movement with sincere confidence .

The dancers again developed the themes of physical and emotional introspection, traveling through relationships and individualism, using the shifting weight of their bodies externally to express the shifting weight of their internal consciousness.

Hoskins' pieces, displaying what he called "phrases centered on an idea, image, quality, tempo or area of the body," came together as a generally cohesive whole presenting the ongoing dialogue on relationships.

This project, the culmination of Hoskins' journey through dance and inspiration since the fall of '98, certainly validated his efforts and abilities in choreography as much as did the support and applause which followed the dancers' final number.