Dance students highlight human resilience in ‘Convergence’

Three dancers posing on dimly lit stage, stock banner from pexels

York Dances 2023: Convergence features new choreographic works of 27 third-year BFA majors performed by students engaged in all levels of York’s programs in dance.

In addition to steering their own creative processes, students led every facet of the production of Convergence, including costumes, lighting design, poster design and front of house. Supported by faculty and students – including guest artist and student Maxine Heppner, and current work-studies technicians – the show celebrates togetherness, individuality and the positive power of community.

TBD Choreographer: Ella Booth-Doris Dancers: Kian Hern, Maddy Moneypenny, Morgan Janes, Jessika Tafolla, Charlize Greaves
“TBD” by Ella Booth-Doris

Ella Booth-Doris’s “TBD,” focuses on the strength needed to overcome life’s obstacles. Performed by Kian Hern, Maddy Moneypenny, Morgan Janes, Jessika Tafolla and Charlize Greaves, this work highlights ways in which people can work together to face challenges. “Relying on one another for support in these times of hesitation, lack of self-confidence, fear and vulnerability is crucial,” Booth-Doris says. Her choreography features a blend of movement genres, showcasing each dancer’s unique style and further proving that, despite their differences, they can help each other to reach a common goal.

Ingress Choreographer: Ria Kerekes Dancers: Isabella Castro, Danika Geen, Sarah Goncalves, Annie Spence, Katie Waters
“Ingress” by Ria Kerekes

Ria Kerekes’s “Ingress” also addresses themes of personal resilience. In their work, dancers Isabella Castro, Danika Geen, Sarah Goncalves, Annie Spence and Katie Waters portray various types of mental illness and neurodivergence. By shedding light on this aspect of the human experience, Kerekes brings awareness to the effects they have on day-to-day life. “I want to display how much of a struggle it is to deal with [mental illnesses and neurodivergence] every single day, and to hopefully teach those who do not understand how uncontrollable and difficult it is,” he says.

Emergence Choreographer: Danika Geen Dancers: Clara Chemtov, Jules Vance
“Emergence” by Danika Geen

Another work that accentuates personal challenges and how to manage them is Leah Rodgers’ “Remember Who You Are.” Her work explores the complexity of finding one’s true identity within a society full of expectations. “I would like not only the audience, but the dancers themselves, in their own interpretation, to feel empowered to take on life with a new outlook and to do what makes them happy,” she says. Dancers Irene Leung, Amelia Mazza, Morgan McCarthy, Drake McKever, Elizabeth South, Katie Waters and Alex Woodley skillfully perform Rodgers’ choreography to show how a positive mindset can inspire them to find and celebrate what makes them unique.

“Emergence” by Geen, also addresses the difficulties inherent to being one’s authentic self. Their piece brings attention to transgender and nonbinary people, highlighting their ability to stay true to themselves, regardless of the negativity that may surround them. On the topic of transgender visibility, Geen says, “I wish I had this sort of representation growing up, especially in dance, which is an extremely gendered art form.” Through the emotionally charged choreography, performers Clara Chemtov and Jules Vance paint a stunning tribute to the transgender community by expressing feelings of gender dysphoria, confusion and, ultimately, radical self-acceptance.

Collapse Choreographer: Travis Keith Dancers: Maya Erwin, Taylor Hooey, Tehillah Riley, Victoria Sharp
“Collapse” by Travis Keith

Travis Keith’s work, “Collapse,” deals with the physical and mental manifestations of overwork and stress. Performed by Maya Erwin, Taylor Hooey, Tehillah Riley and Victoria Sharp, this piece addresses the experience of burnout. Through the dancers’ vulnerable performance, Keith questions the elements in our environment that push us toward collapse, and how we can draw strength to overcome them.

Isabella Sgambelluri’s “9-5 pm” examines the monotony of daily life, and tells the story of three dancers, Julianna Greco, Kiara Sinclair and Melissa Harve, who break out of their daily cycle to pursue a more fulfilling life. As the dancers take the courageous leap toward freeing themselves of their routine, they explore their true needs and desires. Through her powerful choreography, Sgambelluri asks the audience, “Are you tired of living a life that does not fulfill your innermost dreams?”

9-5 pm Choreographer: Isabella Sgambelluri Dancers: Julianna Greco, Kiara Sinclair, Melissa Harve
“9-5 pm” by Isabella Sgambelluri

“Obscured” by Sahara Shwed explores visual disabilities and how they can affect individuals. Inspired by her grandmother, Shwed uses her choreography to bring awareness to blindness, and how people with visual impairments can use their other senses to live fulfilling lives. Dancers Sherry Boamah, Jaelyn Jones and Tehillah Riley beautifully depict the struggles and victories of a blind person.

Obscured Choreographer: Sahara Shwed Dancers: Sherry Boamah, Jaelyn Jones, Tehillah Riley
“Obscured” by Sahara Shwed

Convergence, presented across two series, features 27 short works staged in the McLean Performance Studio, (second floor Accolade Centre East), March 30 and 31, at 7 and 8:30 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased online and in person at the AMPD box office. To reserve, call 416-736-5888 or click here.