Hammer & Nail: Spotlight on original choreography and musical composition by IU students

Guest post courtesy of IU Communications colleague Brittany Aders. Video by multimedia intern Lena Morris.

Indiana University students will showcase their original choreography and musical compositions this week during the annual Hammer & Nail concert, held once again at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater in Bloomington.

The works will combine choreography by dance majors in the Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance in the College of Arts and Sciences, and composition from students in the Jacobs School of Music. Two shows will be performed nightly at 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m on Wednesday and Thursday (April 23-24). While admission is free, audience members are encouraged to donate non-perishable food items collected for Hoosier Hills Community Food Bank.

“A hammer only has the capability to smash things without a nail. A nail can’t build anything without a hammer. There is an integral, interdependent relationship between music and dance that has been practiced and celebrated since the dawn of humankind. And yet, new things are still emerging when the two art forms interact,” said Selene Carter, assistant professor of Contemporary Dance.

In addition to the student choreographers, dances also were designed by two adjunct dance faculty members and two recent graduates; the themes vary across the board.

“From deeply personal themes drawn from life experience to totally abstract, movement-based pieces that seek only to engage the kinesthetic delight or empathy; that feeling one gets when watching dance that they want to get up and move, they each have a reverence and respect for dance,” Carter said.

Choreographer Alyssa Condotti, a junior, said her dance experiences and related relationships had a tremendous influence on her Hammer & Nail piece, which she designed as part of her coursework for Choreographic Performance Projects. Students in this course receive guidance from Carter and each are assigned a faculty mentor.

“This choreography class led me through a creative process that I was craving, she said. “I have been in dances all my life but have never created one for the stage myself. This debut is the culmination of what was most important to me and those who I have had the opportunity to work with have inspired every movement and emotion in this dance.”

Condotti’s inspiration came from teaching a class at Windfall Dance studio in Bloomington called Dance for Parkinson’s Disease. “Ever since I learned about the existence of this disease management movement class, I was inspired,” she said. “I am not only invested in the class when I am preparing the lessons or teaching, but while I am dancing in my own classes and performances as well.”

For her dance project in Hammer & Nail, Condotti chose a piece called “With Me,” presenting a combination of IU contemporary dance students and her students from the Dance for Parkinson’s Disease class. The audience should expect to see themes of trust, joy, and community and emotions such as abandonment of movement and liberation of the body.

“The Parkinson’s disease dancers have taught me the true reason that dance transcends generations and cultures: it is because when people are dancing together without judgment or fear, they are sharing their souls and opening up a space for creation,” Condotti said. “It was only natural that I include them in the first piece I ever put on stage because they have reminded me why this art form is essential to my life. I owe this tribute to them.”

This year students have been provided additional resources because of the dance program’s merger with the new Department of Theater, Drama and Contemporary Dance. These resources include lighting design and technical production support.

“It makes the production even more professional and gives the students so many additional layers of hands on, real-life experience in the workings of theater,” Carter said.

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