Iona’s Fine and Performing Arts Department held a virtual version of their annual Dance Symposium on Sept. 21. Within the event, students were able to view a variety of dance classes, each one representing different cultures and focusing on a different style.
The Iona Dance Symposium gave students the opportunity to view classes taught by professional NYC dance artists. Only select dance students were able to attend the event in-person with all participants wearing masks and socially distancing themselves. However, each individual class was recorded and uploaded to Iona’s website for everyone within the Iona community to watch. Despite the circumstances, this year’s Dance Symposium featured a larger amount of diversity and engaging dance routines than in years prior.
Each instructor taught their class in a way that students of all skill levels would be able to learn the individual techniques and proper form of each style that they specialized in. Students who may have been unfamiliar with a particular style walked away being able to competently dance in it by the end.
With a total of five different classes, including a new Irish step dance session, the Iona Dance Symposium represented a variety of different cultures through both dance and music. Curator of the Symposium and Director of the Iona College Dance Ensemble, Dr. Hannah Park, was pleased with the stronger sense of representation within this year’s event.
“As a curator of the event who had organized this every year, it is always a pleasure to see the community of the students getting together,” Dr. Park said. “It is my hope that this event will provide a sense of oasis to the students as they connect with music, dance, and other culture and other bodies in the community.”
Instructors highlighted how each style evolved over time with students being taught both old-school moves and modern, contemporary dances. Instructors not only taught students about dancing but the cultural relevance of the music they were dancing to as well. The hip–hop class taught by Michelle Cole, for example, educated students on the New York origins of the style as well as how songs such as Jocko Henderson’s “Rhythm Talk” were influential for the genre. The Symposium was an opportunity for students to gain an appreciation for music and dancing as well as the culture of different styles, just as sophomore Gabrielle Rodriguez did.
“I liked the West African dance class because where my family is from – Puerto Rico – we have a huge African influence and I saw the similarities which was cool to see,” Rodriguez said.
All of the classes from this year’s Dance Symposium will be available on Iona’s website for a limited time.