The concert opens with “Aspirations of a Prisoner,” an energetic, theatrical piece focusing on the dancers and their personalities. The piece was choreographed by assistant professor Michael Blake, who joined the theatre arts faculty this year. He says the piece is a reflection of what it means to be an artist.
“It’s about the birth of an idea. You find your dream, but then you’ve got to realize it,” said Blake, who previously served at artistic director of the jazz and contemporary trainee program at the prestigious Joffrey Ballet School in New York City. “It’s personal. It’s theatrical. But it’s real.”
“The Quiet We Keep” is a contemporary piece that explores the identities of both assistant professor Aimee Rials and her dancers. Rials, who recently joined the theatre arts department from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, focuses most of her choreography on past experiences. This piece in particular was inspired by how dance helped Rials overcome her shyness.
Rials developed her piece through collaboration between her and her cast, including them in each step of the choreographic process and approaches her dance style with an open-minded method.
Closing the show is “Petals of the Iris,” a contemporary ballet piece choreographed by assistant professor Amy Walker O’Brien. The piece focuses on the process of losing memories and moving through the different stages of life. O’Brien was inspired by the number three and how that number is represented in our universe: past, present and future; mind, body and spirit; heaven, earth and water.
“Petals of the Iris” features music composed by Grant Carey, a 2013 graduate of the college’s musical theatre program and member of the indie pop duo Summer Underground.
The Department of Theatre Arts at Ithaca College offers a robust suite of technique and liberal arts courses to all students, supporting musical theatre and acting majors, as well as a dance minor combining technique and academic study, complementing related fields such as theatre, music, or physical and occupational therapy.