STUDENT DANCE DESIGNS
SPECIAL TO THE GUARDSMAN
Rachel McCray (top) and Adele Thurston (bottom) rehearsing Bianca Brzezinski's choreography.
TSE-SHIN PING / GUARDSMAN
Step into the North Gym Dance Studio early on any Tuesday and Thursday morning and you’re likely to see groups of students diligently rehearsing long before the start of class.
Their routines do not seem to fall into any particular style, but even an untrained eye could identify morsels of jazz, ballet and hip-hop presented in compelling ways that the visitor is drawn to stay around to sample more.
Welcome to PE 3 – Dance Composition – where students explore the form, content and design of dance through the artistic process of weekly studies that culminate in a semester- ending performance.
Under the guidance of the instructor Luana, the class has been exploring the use of elements such as time, space, energy, shapes, texture, dynamics, rhythm and phrasing in weekly assignments. Now, as students prepare for the final performance on Dec. 6, some will assemble vignettes from past studies to create feature-length pieces of concert caliber.
As soon as the dance studio opens at 8 a.m., groups of three or four dancers assemble to rehearse a fellow student’s composition.
“This class has helped me expand my dance horizons by showing me how to apply structure and concepts to what I am composing,” Jocquese Whitfield said. “It also helps me find ways to give clear instructions to my own students.”
Whitfield, 19, who majors in dance and political science has trained in hip-hop, jazz, ballroom, ballet, modern, voguing and gymnastics. He currently teaches hip-hop to adults and high school students, and plans to study with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York next summer.
Rachel McCray, 21, has taken classes in jazz and tap dancing at City College. She now feels poised to transfer into the dance program at Mills College.
“I’ve learned so much this semester, not just in techniques, but also in being an effective leader and a confident dancer. This course has served as a springboard for me to consider a career in dance,” McCray said.
The younger students look up to Albert Hodge, 30, a 15-year veteran of musical theater who is repeating the class for the fourth time while pursuing two certificates in dance at City College. Throughout the semester, Albert performs his pieces with such polish and professionalism that he serves≠ as a role model for his fellow classmates.
“Luana inspires me to stretch and grow artistically,” said Hodge. “As a choreographer I’m learning how to clearly communicate intent and to develop an aesthetic sense of presentation. As a dancer I’m learning how to reach deep beneath surface layers and cultural forms to bring forth a truth organically.”
Most of the class feels inspired by Luana, who has developed a reputation as a caring and demanding teacher.
“My aim is to teach students to communicate an intrinsic vitality on stage,” said Luana, who has taught at City College for 19 years. “Each student has a brilliance, a genius so to speak. I teach to the ‘internal teacher’ which resides inside the student. I find students understand quicker, retain information longer and can aptly apply the information in a multiplicity of situations.”
Former students have gone on to do great things in the dance world. Gina Thompson, Luana’s former rehearsal assistant, currently leads her own performance company, PURE, as well as teaching classes in movement, cheerleading and dance conditioning. Erin Mei-Ling Stuart of the EmSpace Dance Company first studied modern dance at City College.
It is now 9:10 a.m., time to begin another session of Dance Composition. Luana promptly enters the studio, and the aspiring choreographers line up at the blackboard to post their names and the names of their troupes in the order of performance appearance. As each student boldly steps up to the stage, the audience witnesses a dreamer leaping forth onto the larger world of life.
'MAGNOLIAS' BLOOM IN NEW PERFORMANCE
BY JESSICA LUTHI
Laura Espino (sitting) and Elizabeth Rossi shine as Shelby Eatenton-Latcherie and Truvy Jones in City College's "Steel Magnolias."
ALEX LUTHI / GUARDSMAN
“Steel Magnolias,” City College theater department’s latest production, hit the stage at Diego Rivera Theatre under the direction of Gloria Weinstock Nov. 9 and runs through Nov. 18.
Under Weinstock’s direction, “Steel Magnolias” stays true to the original play, written by Robert Harling.
In “Magnolias,” we are taken into the lives of six incredible, gossipy Louisiana women: Truvy Jones (played by Elizabeth Rossi), Shelby Eatenton-Latcherie (Laura Espino), M’Lynn Eatenton (Mary Waterfield), Annelle Dupuy-Desoto (Casey Gaut), Ouiser Boudreaux (Dee Baily) and Clairee Belcher (Donna Edmonson), all of whom become close friends in a small town beauty shop.
“I truly enjoyed the play,” said Millie Cabato, a member of the audience. “The ladies were very convincing in their roles and moved me.”
The audience follows these gossipy ladies through the years as they change and grow. When the house lights rise at the beginning of the next act, the audience encounters preparations for a wedding and the arrival of a baby.
The play centers on the life of Shelby and her effect on the women in the beauty shop. Shelby is newly married and expecting her first child.
Shelby has diabetes and it takes a terrible toll on her body. Shelby’s mother M’Lynn tries hard to protect Shelby, even as her only daughter marries and moves in with her new husband.
Under the pressure of life, M’Lynn sometimes can’t stand on her own two feet. When she needs a shoulder to cry on, she looks to her friends for strength and comfort.
The women share many laughs and gossip about all the people in their lives, including their husbands and each other — but it’s not all fun and laughter.
The play ends on a tragic note, but ultimately brings the women closer together.
The cast put on a spectacular performance. They were powerful and so convincing that they moved many of the audience members to tears.
“The ladies did a good job,” said audience member Nancy Chapman. “They adhered and stayed true to the story. It was a wonderful performance.”
STATE YOUR FASHION CITY COLLEGE
ARIEL SOTO / GUARDSMAN
Wade Gallman, 18
Praise this style
Sociology major Wade Gallman’s classes were over for the day and he kicked it with some friends on the sidewalk outside Batmale Hall. He described his style as “casual” and “laid back.”
Cooler than cool and with a nod to his religious beliefs, he proudly wore his Serenity Prayer pendant with praying hands on the front and Serenity Prayer on the back.
When asked where he found such things his reply was simple: “The Internet, places like DrJays.com and random stores no one knows about.”
That doesn’t explain why he laces his shoes “frontwards.”
“It’s just what I do,” Gallman said.
ARIEL SOTO / GUARDSMAN
Monique Calvello, 18
Homegirl's outfit is Krunk!
Between classes, chatting with friends, Monique Calvello showed off her wicked style.
“I want to be a high school teacher, or maybe a nurse,” she said.
Looking hella tight in her cream turtleneck, black boots, skinny jeans, spotted Dalmatian belt and gigantic pyramid gold earrings, her flamboyant style may help her gain notoriety if not respect.
“I have to stand out, I don’t want to look like other girls,” she said. “I want to be different, sometimes really ‘80s!”
Where does she get her inspiration? “Eva, Gwen Stefani, Betsy Johnson, InStyle and People Magazine,” she said.
Monique’s dual heritage also informs her fashion choices.
“I’m half-white and half-black, and I like to play with mixing cultures,” she said. One day I’ll be a white girl and the next, a black girl.”
STUDENT INK by Michael Morgan
Finn, by Jon Clinch
This oft-visited tale gets told from a new perspective in Jon Clinch’s unique portrayal of Huck Finn’s father, “Finn.” The entire story is told from Finn’s point of view. Rather than making this a related book, it takes a story once familiar and takes it down a twisted and unrecognizable path.
Finn is not a likeable character. He is an alcoholic whose drunken rage causes him to brutally beat his son and to kill more than once. Through his eyes, the reader slowly begins to understand the forces that shaped this character and some kind of strange empathy develops.
The dialects and the language of Clinch’s characters gives them depth and humanity. One can almost smell the catfish and hear the Mississippi rushing by.
Statecraft. by Dennis Ross
“Statecraft: And How to Restore America’s Standing in the World” by Dennis Ross (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26, 370 pages). Statecraft is the “art of conducting state affairs.”
According to Ambassador Ross, former President George H.W. Bush conducted statecraft well in the unification of Germany and liberation of Kuwait in the first Gulf War.
President Clinton conducted affairs well in Bosnia and the Middle East. Clinton understood diplomacy, Ross writes.
President George W. Bush, however, failed to use effective statecraft leading up to the Iraq war.
This is a highly informative book on diplomacy for lay readers.