University of Akron dance students so enjoyed learning from dancer Chloe Felesina of BalletX in a residency last fall, the school brought her back to create a new work for the UA Dance Company spring concert today and Friday at E.J. Thomas Hall.
Felesina, who grew up in Sacramento, Calif., and has danced full time with BalletX in Philadelphia since 2012, worked for two weeks in February and March to create A Room Without Edges. She chose 15 dancers by conducting auditions while sitting in a Starbucks in Reno, Nev., using FaceTime on her iPad to see the UA dancers execute her movements.
The guest choreographer has made dances since she was 8 but said this is the first opportunity she’s had to spend a good 40 hours creating a work on a large cast.
“This opportunity, it’s given me a new perspective on how wonderful it is to be able to connect with dancers … It’s sort of like creating a little community, a dance as a community. You work with the spirits in the room, and then all of a sudden, something happens and you have just a wonderful family that has created something we can share,” said Felesina, 25.
The first movement is dense, with hopscotching, clapping and little arm movements. The second movement has seven changing pairs of dancers improvising together on a dance phrase. When each is done, they go to the back of the stage and execute the original phrase more quickly, creating a unison phrase that keeps getting bigger.
Because the dancers don’t know who their partner will be until they enter, they must focus very closely on the other dancer each time. Felesina said because they don’t have expectations from the same partner, this prevents partnerships from becoming stale.
Graduate Chelsea Hupalowsky rehearsed the dance with the group until Felesina’s return Monday for final rehearsals and the shows, which will be at 7:30 p.m. each night.
“I came back and it looks amazing,” Felesina said Tuesday. “My jaw was on the floor last night.”
Her dance’s title refers to an intimate space that nevertheless is infinite: “A Room Without Edges describes how we can all be in the same room of love or friendship no matter where we are on Earth.”
Felesina said the UA dancers’ openness and support has made all the difference: “I’m going to be a better dancer for being here.”
Also on the program will be faculty members Cydney Spohn’s LeSonge (The Daydream), Tom Smith’s Auschwitz and Robin Prichard’s Hold. Cost is $14; $12 for senior citizens, faculty, staff, alumni and UA parents; and $7 for students. See www.uaevents.com.
Arts writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.