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    UA School of Dance values important women through spoken word and dance


    Courtesy of Christopher Nordensson/UA Honors College

    Maya Lowney, a physiology sophomore, practices her dance for “Progressions: Dance, Poetry and Prose” at the Women’s Plaza of Honor. The event is a collaboration between UA School of Dance and Honors College students to honor the women who have left an impact on all of their lives.

    Two art forms, one of body and one of spoken word, will come together for two nights of celebration and reflection in “Progressions: Dance, Poetry, Prose” at the Women’s Plaza of Honor.

    Hosted by Patrick Baliani, an assistant professor in the UA Honors College, “Progressions” is a collaboration between his poetic students and adjunct dance instructor Erika Colombi’s talented performers, all in the interest of honoring and reflecting upon the women in the students’ personal lives.

    “’Progressions’ is the movement from dance and poetry to prose,” Baliani said. “It’s the movement from celebration to awareness, and it’s also the hope that we can all move forward together.”

    Part one of the event, titled “Celebrating Women,” showcased last night, Nov. 18. “Celebrating Women” featured a variety of original poems from students in Baliani’s Experiences in the Humanities courses partnered with dance pieces and improvisation by Colombi’s students. While the overarching theme of the night was the celebration of women, a handful of the pieces also focused on feelings of longing and distance associated with these deep personal relationships.

    Magda Kaczmarska, a dance graduate student at the UA, is the coordinator and one of the choreographers for the dance portion of “Progressions.” Through her structured improv performances with other graduate students Danielle Sheather, Myra Joy Veluz and Lindsey Worley along with an undergraduate improv class, Kaczmarska said she hopes to honor a special woman in her life.

    “I had a very close friend of mine who was like a mother to me … and she was diagnosed and passed away from brain cancer last year,” Kaczmarska said. “My intentions for this were that it would be an opportunity to celebrate her.”

    Kaczmarska was not the only one to honor a maternal presence in her life; physiology sophomore Maya Lowney danced to honor her mother, whose birthday also happens to be Wednesday, and hoped to affect others through her performance.

    “I especially want [the audience] to be inspired and appreciate the different art forms of poetry and dance,” Lowney said. Lowney performed a contemporary style entrance duet that she choreographed with Maddy Kilby.

    While part one of “Progressions” focused on dance, poetry and celebration, part two encompasses the responsibilities of the community when it comes to responding to violence against women. Hannah Robb, a recent UA alumna, will read her senior thesis paper on violence toward women on college campuses at “Responsibilities and Response.”

    The reading of Robb’s thesis paper, titled “Rape, Responsibility, Response: Feminist Solutions to Rape Culture on College Campuses,” begins at 5 p.m. tonight, Nov. 19, and will be juxtaposed with the reading of popular children’s stories by Baliani’s students.

    “We want to see what the relation is between the stories that we’ve always been told as kids and the story we’re being told today as young adults,” Baliani said.

    Although “Progressions” was the first event in which Baliani melded poetry, prose and dance together into a performance, he is not new to the live presentation of student art. Each semester, Baliani endeavors to take what he and his students have discovered in Contemporary Experiences in the Humanities and give back to the community that provided their exploration opportunities.

    Baliani said he is particularly fond of the live aspect of certain art forms, citing how different it is for the students to express their artwork in front of a crowd rather than through a screen or on paper. He explained that it creates a level of intimacy that is difficult to achieve without in-person interaction and that he finds it very courageous on the students’ parts to put themselves and their artwork on display for the public.

    Through “Progressions,” Baliani said he hoped for his students to communicate the message that we as a community should be more grateful and continue to improve upon ourselves and our society.

    “We need to be more thankful more often for the great things in our lives and we also, given that thankfulness, have a responsibility to improve everyone’s life together,” Baliani said.

    Follow Victoria Pereira on Twitter.

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