state of human affairs

Kali Reyna, Kaylee Woest and Arielle Mathis practice at dress rehearsal for the "State of Human Affairs" showcase, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, at Evans Auditorium.

As their final year at Texas State comes to a close, senior dance, performance and choreography students choreographed their own piece one last time for the annual BFA performance and choreography showcase. 

The showcase, "The State of Human Affairs," ran from Nov. 11-14 at Evans Auditorium. Seniors in the Division of Dance were assigned to create their own topic-based piece and exhibit a sense of their own individuality for the showcase. 

With freedom of artistic ability, each choreographer chose a different but important topic to base their performance on that showcased all the students have learned throughout their time at Texas State.

The topics selected by each choreographer were strung into the core of their dances to paint a bigger picture for the audience and show the severity of the chosen subject. Jessica Campbell, a dance performance and choreography senior, tied in her Jewish heritage to formulate a piece based on the Holocaust that relates to society today.

"The purpose of my piece at the end of the day is to bring awareness. Awareness to trauma, awareness to grief and loss and inevitably trauma and events that happened in the past," Campbell said. "My piece is kind of bringing acknowledgment to a historical event that is still present today. And [it] kind of shows patterns, whether it's with racism, whether it's being outcast [or] isolated because you're a minority."

Campbell did extensive research on the Holocaust to provide the most accurate information in the routine. She not only wanted to show the past and its cruelty but display how the topic is still a serious issue. 

Every performance in the showcase has a piece of the choreographer's identity embedded into the topic. Ilse Mascorro, a dance performance and choreography senior, wanted to do her piece on an issue she related to. Her piece focused on femicides in Mexico. 

"What I want to convey to the audience essentially is awareness to femicides in Mexico and the want to learn [and] the want to know if femicides also happen in [the audience members'] hometown, even if it is not in Mexico, even if it is in the U.S.," Mascorro said.

Mascorro utilized Folklorico in her piece, a traditional, strict and precise Mexican style of dance. In her piece, however, she purposely choreographed her dancers to break the rules of the style as a symbol of disrespect. She did this as a rebellion against the stereotype in Mexico that women are lesser than men. 

The showcase also featured recorded performances. Samantha Gross, a dance performance and choreography senior, decided on a multimedia performance rather than a live performance to challenge herself. Her process was much different from the choreographers that decided on a live performance. 

“This is my BFA. I want to challenge myself. I can make a stage piece in my sleep, so I decided to make a video dance,” Gross said. “It’s been very interesting doing this new process learning how to make a screen dance successfully with so many moving parts. Like, I had to order lighting, and make sure that I had the right software for me to edit and picking locations and gathering my dancers to go film and scouting locations for me to go film at.”

Gross' piece is based on an experience she recently encountered. The dance consists of four parts, telling a story of a dream sequence that depicts the importance of connecting with others, living authentically and ignoring the societal standards that people grow up with every day. She touches on how people live off of ideas that are given to them instead of making connections with others. 

The three seniors have choreographed routines throughout all their years at Texas State, some even prior to attending. They all agree creating pieces for the showcase differed vastly from previous choreographed routines, whether it was from the pressure they felt from deadlines or the fear of not displaying their message in a meaningful way.

Choreographers underwent a multitude of tasks, from research to choreography, so their inner creations could become vivid realities. Each piece was solely their own — from the theme, music choice and choreography down to the dancers, lights and costumes.

Each choreographer had several obstacles they had to overcome in order for them to create their final product. Some obstacles were choreography-based such as having to come up with new choreography when a vision didn't play out correctly. Others were based on mechanics such as trying to find a dance location or the perfect costume to go along with their piece.

Campbell said she overcame the obstacles by trying new things and remaining open-minded. 

"There was a time when I had this idea, and it was horrible. I hated it, and I was like in a rage of 'what the hell am I going to do?' because my one idea didn't work," Campbell said. "If one of my ideas doesn't work I can't see anything else. And [my dancers] were like 'just let us try, we are gonna try something,' ... their idea allowed me to see something different ... now that part of the piece is probably one of my favorites."

Despite the obstacles, the choreographers were able to emerge from the experience with a sense of pride for their accomplishments and a feeling of excitement to end their time at Texas State. 

"This is it. This is my last [piece]," Campbell said. "I think for seniors, being a senior, this is our big last moment, and there was a lot of pressure to be the best. I'm definitely happy and proud. I never thought I would do anything like this. I'm excited, sad, scared, nervous, anxious, gonna throw up, could be like crying, so excited. It's like all this work and now it's like 'here it is,' and now I get to share it."

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