The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024

Brown Bag offers up eclectic performances

Though dance concerts are a regular occurrence at the Meadows School of the Arts, the program that receives by far the most attention from the SMU community is the Brown Bag Dance Series. The bi-yearly performance takes place in the lobby of the Bob Hope Theatre.

Perhaps it’s the atmosphere: the sun shining through the glass and the exciting feeling of being so close to the action. Maybe it makes for something to watch while you enjoy your lunch. Or perhaps it’s just because it’s free.

More likely though, it’s that the show is a culmination of pieces choreographed and directed by students, peers and friends that sparks so much interest.

Louis Acquisto is a junior dance major. His piece, “Invisible Men,” is performed by a single dancer to a recording of a song sung by a man waiting for his bus to arrive, also known as ‘busking.’

Acquisto has performed in the Brown Bag Series every semester since his freshman year, though it is only his second semester to choreograph for the show.

“If you like what you saw this week, we also have a Fall Dance Concert this semester and different shows next semester that people should attend,” Acquisto said.

Mary Angelo is junior dance major. Her piece “Drop” is performed to the song “Tomorrow Never Knows” by the Beatles and features seven dancers. She drew her inspiration for the piece by researching what inspired the historic band.

“The lyrics are partially based on the books ‘The Psychedelic Experience,’ written Timothy Leary and ‘The Tibetan Book of the Dead.’ Both provided interesting ideas and imagery which helped to influence me during the creative process.”

This is Angelo’s first Brown Bag experience as both a choreographer and dancer.

Katie Drablos and Chris Jarosz both are junior dance majors. Their piece “With or Without You” is performed to a violin instrumental of U2’s 1987 hit of the same name.

Along the same lines as the song, the choreography is meant to be about the emotion that stems from relationships.

“We thought about relationships in general; the ups and downs, love, confusion and hope that encompasses them,” Drablos says. Both choreographers are also dancers in other pieces this year.

Allison Griswold is a senior dance major. She performs her piece “Gotta Walk Away” alongside Angelo to Tom Waits’ “Walk Away.” Griswold says the choreography was ultimately inspired by the music after watching clips of Vaudeville acts and Waits performances. This is her first time choreographing for the show and though she has performed in it many times before, she calls the experience “both gratifying and nerve racking, in equal parts.”

Senior Jarrell Hamilton and junior Tiffany Halay are both dance majors. The two choreographed the playful piece “Recess” featuring almost a dozen dancers frolicking in childlike ways.

“We used lots of childish games to choreograph the piece, like hide and seek and tag,” Halay says. She also states that they hope the piece will show adults, “it’s okay to want to play.” For Halay, who performs in the piece herself, this is her third time to choreograph for the show.

Trista Jennings is a senior dance major. She, along with two of her peers, performs her piece “Da Dee Da” to live music. Jennings says movement and passion for music inspired her fast-paced piece. Jennings, who choreographed pieces her freshman and sophomore years for the series, is still enthusiastic about the event.

Though she says Brown Bag can be hectic, she stresses that she enjoys being so close to the audience.

“Overall, it is a fun experience for the dancers, choreographers and the audience,” Jennings says.

Willis Johnston and Lauren Perry are both junior dance majors. Together they choreographed and perform in their piece called “Push/Pull.” They say the song they perform to, “The Moment I Said It” by Imogen Heap, was where they drew most of their inspiration for the choreography.

“It was a collaborative process, so we really fed off of each other,” says Johnston. For both, it is the first time to choreograph for the show, although they have performed since freshmen year.

Page Leahy is a sophomore dance and business double major. Her piece, “Expreselo,” is a tango-style piece performed by one male and five female dancers to the song “Libertango.”

“What really inspired me is the story behind the movement. The interaction between the man and woman in the tango is so expressive. It’s just such a passionate style,” she says. This is her first experience with the Brown Bag Dance Series.

Matt Walfish is a senior dance major. Choreographed to Eric Whitacre’s “Sleep,” his piece “January, 1987” is inspired by a Japanese tradition called toro nagashi, or lantern floating. Though he has choreographed for the series two times before, this is his first time choreographing a ballet piece.

“I think that it turned out really well. The dancers are beautiful and each time I watch the piece I notice something different,” he says. The piece is performed by eight female dancers.

Four dancers perform to senior dance major Michael Wright’s piece “Unknown Up Until This Point” to Arvo Part’s “Silouan’s Song.”

“I use stretchable Under Armour brand shirts as part of the choreography to express a struggle people feel both internally and as members of society dealing with loss,” he says.

Wright, who has created pieces in the series twice before, acknowledges it brings attention to the dance department as well as all of arts within the SMU community.

The Brown Bag Dance Series began Monday and ends Friday in the lobby of the Bob Hope Theatre. Performances are at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday and at noon on Friday.

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