posted April 18, 2012

Student Dance Concert Includes Women’s Studies Keystone Project

The April 23-24 student dance concerts at Hope College will feature an example of cross-disciplinary connection in action.

The program will include “ishta,” the Women’s Studies Keystone project of senior Jillian Conner of Finleyville, Pa., who is a dance and women’s studies dual major.  “ishta” is directed by Conner, who has co-choreographed the work with sophomore Jessica St. Clair of Sparta, N.J.

The concerts, featuring a variety of student works, will take place on Monday and Tuesday, April 23 and 24, at 8 p.m. at the Knickerbocker Theatre, located at 86 E. Eighth St. in downtown Holland.  The public is invited, and admission is free.

“ishta” is Conner’s independent project for the spring 2012 Women’s Studies Keystone class, which is instructed by Dr. Julie Kipp, professor of English.  The piece was co-mentored by Matthew Farmer, assistant professor of dance.

The objective of the project is to create a feminist dance piece through feminist means; to make a safe space for a group of young women to explore through dance what it means to be a woman. Through those explorations, which focused on physical womanhood, the body and erotic power, the piece was developed. It is an abstract work that focuses not as much on aesthetic as on authenticity, on movements that are truthful and healing. The title “ishta” comes from the Native American Lakota word for she/female/girl.

In addition to Conner and St. Clair, the performers in “ishta” will include junior Amber Banks of Zeeland; junior Elizabeth Bisinger of Wheaton, Ill.; sophomore Jillian Black of Plymouth; sophomore Claire Call of Royal Oak; sophomore Alexandria Clark of Grand Rapids; senior Kaily Gumpper of Salt Lake City, Utah; senior Erin Kolba of Arlington Heights, Ill.; senior Liisa Mosher of Galesburg; junior Hannah Stewart of Stockholm, Sweden; and senior Kirsten VanReenen of Livonia.

The piece was adjudicated by dance faculty Steven Iannacone, associate professor of dance, and guest adjudicator Luise Wykell.  Lighting and technical design was made possible by Erik Alberg, technical director for events and conferences, and the Knickerbocker technical crew.