Iona University’s Dance Ensemble perform Spring dance concert: “Arts, Architecture and Community”

Connor Coppola, Staff Writer

           Iona University’s Arts and Languages Department held its annual Spring Dance Symposium over a span of two days on April 13-14 in the Murphy Center Auditorium.  

The event was sponsored by the Council on the Arts & the Arts and Languages Department, and the students displayed various performances with the theme of “Arts, Architecture and Community.”  

The event consisted of 10 different dance numbers – four solo acts and six numbers featuring multiple people. Many of the numbers celebrated multiple themes of community and commemorated diverse cultures from different time periods. The dancers put in a group effort while also celebrating everyone’s uniqueness and individuality. The two main dance styles depicted in these numbers were inspired by Caribiana style and contemporary dances. Dr. Hannah Park along with many students choreographed all 10 numbers, each having their own flair and style. 

Two members of the dance ensemble, Jennifer Romain and Blessing Forson, spoke about their experiences with the Symposium and the preparation that went into it. This was Forson’s first Iona Dance Ensemble showcase; she was excited but also anxious for her first ever live performance.  

“I was super nervous for my 30 second solo performance hoping I wouldn’t mess up, but I was proud of myself and the team around me,” Forson said. 

Romain has been participating in Iona’s Dance Ensemble for six semesters, but still has the same excitement and energy she had for her first performance when preparing and performing. When asked how difficult it is to remember so many different pieces, she said, “Your mind is in a completely different spot. When the music starts, it is like I am in a whole new world, and everything just connects all at once.” 

Both dancers enjoyed the many different numbers the ensemble performed, but the one that stood out for Forson was the quartet piece of “Me, You, & Us.” This piece was performed to the music of “Tomorrow We Fight.” The dance explores individuality within the community while celebrating differences and similarities within the group. Forson also mentioned the Michael Jackson “Function of Energy” number danced by Eliana Rivera, “Le Jazz Hot” from the musical “Victor/Victoria,” performed by Romain, Britney Castro, Samantha D’Agostino, Sierra Emener, Lillian Johnson and Victoria Shinnick, as well as the quartet piece 

Romain could not pick a favorite, but three stood out in her eyes. The entire dance ensemble was extremely delighted to be able to perform in front of an in-person audience, something they have only been able to do once since the COVID-19 pandemic. From the spring semester of 2020 until the spring semester of 2022, all dance practices and symposiums were held online over Zoom.  

“Those circumstances definitely took a toll on us, and we were so delighted that the dancers and I could have face to face interactions with the audience,” Romain said.