Scholars Day was recently held at The College at Brockport on April 9th. MFA candidates, Bethany Good and Samantha Johnson, each took time to write about their experiences that day. Bethany Good discussed viewing the presentations of her peers, while Samantha Johnson talked to graduate student, Morgan Bernat about what is was like to present a written paper and choreographic showing. Check it out below:
By Bethany Good
In addition to the opportunity to present your own work, Scholars Day allows students and faculty to see what others around campus are working on. This year I was able to not only present a paper and perform a self-choreographed solo, but also witness amazing choreography from others and hear intelligent and thoughtful papers from my peers.
My day started out with listening to senior BFA Brett Cox in his presentation Beyond the Skirts: An In-depth Look at Gender Roles and Sterotypes Associated with Western Concert Dance. He asked us to question what we think of as masculine or feminine, and instead look at performers as humans who, although living through different experiences, have the same basic emotions. To enhance his words, Cox presented a duplicate showing of his choreographic work Echoes, the first showing with an all-male cast and the second with an all-female cast. Cox asked his audience to consider how the different casts affected the movement, bringing to life emotions rather than masculinity or femininity.
In a later session senior Caitlin Mahon presented her senior honors thesis: The Dance of Politics: All for One and None for All.” Mahon shared her research process of politics and the distribution of power. This was followed by her choreographic thesis, a work comprised of strong dancers and performers, bringing Mahon’s research to life through the divide of two groups. These two groups clearly demonstrated one as more oppressive, holding more power than the other.
These two snippets represent just a couple snapshots of what the dance department presented this year during Scholars Day. Other presentations included MFA thesis works, a recap of the NDEO Dance 2050 conference, and papers bringing research sources to life.
By Samantha Johnson
Samantha Johnson (SJ): What did you enjoy most about your experience at Scholars Day?
Morgan Bernat (MB): I enjoyed the experience of sharing my work with an audience that wasn’t all dance people. I especially enjoyed showing my work in progress because I feel like there is always this finished product shine that work has when it is performed. I enjoyed the experience of exposing a large audience of dancers and non-dancers to the roughness that is a work in progress.
SJ: Did you enjoy the experience of being an active participant?
MB: I did enjoy this experience because it pushed me to understand how I can speak to dancers and non-dancers in a cohesive and effective way. I had to be especially careful in the breakdown of what I was talking about and I enjoyed the challenge of finding new ways to describe my choreographic work and my research.
SJ: What part of Scholars Day had the largest impact on you as a graduate student?
MB: I feel like I don’t have the opportunity to talk about my research that often. I talk about dance making much more frequently and it is something I am comfortable with. This was a great opportunity to get more comfortable talking about my research in a professional setting. It taught me a lot about who I am as a presenter of research in addition to my creative presentations.