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Russell native in virtual dance concert

SLIPPERY ROCK — Sarah Dietsch, a senior dance major from Russell, will be among the students participating in Slippery Rock University’s Department of Dance annual Faculty and Guest Artist concert at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 8, via a livestream on the department’s YouTube channel.

The concert is a collaboration between SRU dance and art students, University faculty and nationally and internationally known guest artists. Jesse Factor, SRU instructor of dance and coordinator for the event, describes it as an opportunity for “showcasing dance faculties’ creative research and to work with guest artists to diversify students’ dance experiences.”

The concert will include up to 10 performances consisting of various styles and techniques and featuring 20 student dancers, four guest artists and seven faculty members.

Guest artists will include:

¯ Christy Funsch, artistic director for Funsch Dance Experience in San Francisco, California.

¯ Tiffany Shrom, a 2020 SRU graduate with a bachelor’s degree in dance, from Quarryville.

¯ Nol Simonse, a modern dance instructor and collaborative partner with Funsch.

¯ Chitra Subramanian, a Pittsburgh-based dancer trained in hip-hop and Bharatanatyam, an Indian classical dance form.

¯ Besides Factor, other SRU faculty that are coordinating, performing and choreographing the event include:

Nora Ambrosio, professor of dance, who will be choreographing.

¯ Andy Hasenpflug, instructor of dance, who will be performing.

¯ Heather Hertel, associate professor of art, who has contributed to the design and creation of wearable art sailcloths.

¯ Jennifer Keller, professor of dance, who will serve as a choreographer and cinematographer.

¯ Ursula Payne, professor of dance, who will be performing.

¯ Jaya Mani, instructor of dance, who will be choreographing.

¯ Lindsay Viatori, associate professor of dance, who will be choreographing and performing.

Students who were selected to participate auditioned during the spring semester.

Previously staged at Butler County Community College’s Succop Theater, this year’s event has been moved to a virtual environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Factor said the challenges of the now-online performances mostly involve staging “diverse practices in nontraditional spaces, especially as some of these once in-person dances are transitioned to film.” He added, “Though, given the pandemic, the concert is a great way to sustain a sense of community not only within the Department of Dance but also within the University setting.”

Despite challenges associated with dancers transitioning their pieces to an online format, Factor remains impressed by their commitment and drive.

“It’s inspiring to see fellow faculty members and students continue to adapt and to allow ourselves to move forward creatively despite setbacks such as not being in a theater,” Factor said.

The first half of the concert will include Subramanian’s “Linked,” a piece combining foundational movements from hip-hop and Bharatanatyam.

Subramanian’s piece serves as an “exploration of the nature and journey of community from the formation of relationships to self-actualization within a community setting” achieved by the presence of physical relationships through partnering, formations and cyphers.

“The piece feels like the typical journey that one – the individual and the individual’s community – goes through in the regular groove of everyday life,” said Subramanian.

The second half of the concert will include an excerpt from Funsch and Simonse’s “Golden Bull,” the partner’s first full-length group work that premiered in San Francisco’s Dance Mission Theater in November 2018.

The duo’s piece, featuring a multiethnic, all-male cast, is an exploration of human and spatial relations through touch and listening inspired by Pagan ritual and masculine archetypes which play into societal expectations. Funsch and Simonse achieve allusions to these themes through ritual-like sequences including huddles and floor rolls, and with moments of diverse solo performance.

Admission for the livestream is $4 via e-tickets.

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