Graduating seniors in dance at NSU to present original works at May 1 concert


The Department of Theatre and Dance at Northwestern State University will present its annual Senior Dance Concert on Sunday, May 1 at 1 p.m. in the A.A. Fredericks Auditorium. Admission is free and open to the public. Those attending are asked to wear a mask, but they are not required.

Twelve graduating seniors in dance will present original dance works of four to seven minutes in styles ranging from modern to jazz. The concert is called “Legacies” in honor of this group of seniors who are the first group to graduate with a BFA in dance after completing all four years in the program.

Senior choreographers presenting original works are John Jefferson and Kayla Smith of Shreveport, Abigail Miller of Slidell, Mary Scott Pourciau, Sarah Talbot and Hannah Knoff of Baton Rouge, Mary Strickland of Metairie, Haleigh Giorlando–Wall of New Orleans, Erin Fallis of Pineville, Tlen Mason and D’Sherrick Williams of Marshall, Texas, and Jose Arrieta Cuesta of Cartagena, Colombia. The stage manager is Myjoycia Cezar. Director of Dance Kirstin Riehl is assisting the students in putting on the concert.

Jefferson’s work is called “Four Women” and he said the inspiration behind his piece is “simply the African American woman.”

“Black women have been an extremely important part of my life for obvious reasons,” said Jefferson. “I just wanted to show some of the many different sides and personalities they can come with.”

Dancers for Jefferson’s work are Star Davis of Natchitoches, Mekayla Jenkins of Jennings, Chelsie Stephens of New Orleans and Ashanta Wilson of Leesville. Zita Bartels is lighting designer.

The cast for Miller’s work, “Voyage,” are Jillian Duggan of Shreveport,  Julia Lynch of St. Amant, Carleigh Murphy of Meadville, Pennsylvania, and Makenzie Scroggs of Marksville. Roshane Brown is lighting designer.

“This process has been a journey and I never could have picked better dancers to show my style of movement that best represents me as an artist,” said Miller.

Pourciau’s work is called “Keep Up.” It tells the story of an underdog dancer that comedically falls short of the others in her group. As the number progresses, the dancer finds herself rising to the challenge and going beyond those around her.

“I was inspired by the challenges I’ve face in my own dance career,” said Pourciau. “I’ve learned that no matter the hardship, my determination will get me where I need to be.”

The cast is  Kristi Contreary of Geismar, Elizabeth Cook of Alexandria, Lynch, Robert McCandlish of Monroe and Ashlyn Pettiss of Prairieville. Liam Gardner is lighting designer.

Smith’s work is titled “Fem.i.nin.i.ty.” The cast is Stephens, Ashley Stevens of Baton Rouge, Scroggs, Khuyen Tran of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Jenkins, Ashanta Wilson of Leesville, and Joy Davis of Minden. Nicole Lala is the lighting designer.

Strickland’s work is called “Ascending.” The dancers are Cullen Barrilleaux of New Orleans, Treyvin Aucoin of Rayne, Evan Murr of Fort Worth, McCandlish, Murphy. Ella Abney of Slidell, and Joseph Gomez of Cartagena, Colombia. Imani Fleury is the lighting designer.

Giorlando–Wall’s work is called “State of the Arts.” The dancers are  Barrilleaux, Scroggs, Murr and Tran. Gardner is the lighting designer.

“My piece is based around avant-garde, runway fashion and vogue,” said Giorlando-Wall.

Fallis’ work is “Touche.’”

“As a people-watcher enthusiast, I have learned, observed, hunted and gathered information about people all my life,” said Fallis. “’Touché’ is inspired by the contrast of interactions with strangers versus interactions with loved ones. Don’t take life too seriously. Don’t take people for granted. Be nice to strangers — you never know.”

The cast is Cook, Mia Claire Huffman of Pineville, Murphy, Ashlyn Petiss of Prairieville and Aleysia Trahan of Lafayette. Jaedynn Maxwell is lighting designer.

Mason’s work, “Clowning Around,” features dancer Jessie Cochran of Walker, Kerrie Spillman of Natchitoches, Lara Bankston of Kenner, Micah Ballard of Benton, Maria Mancera of Cartagena, Colombia, and Phoenix Woods of Lafayette. Maxwell Martello is lighting designer.

Talbot’s work is called “Beyond.” The cast is Aleysia Trahan of Lafayette,  Ashley Stevens of Baton Rouge, Ceasar Brown of West Monroe, Connor Corbett of Texarkana, Texas; Emily Shumate of West Monroe, Grace Williamson of Fremont, California; Jillian Duggan of Shreveport, Cook, Huffman, Vee Duran of Denham Springs and Julia Kuchler of New Orleans. Andy Killion is the lighting designer.

“My piece is centered around the idea of focus and the power of focus as a performer,” said Talbot. “My dancers get to create their own world on stage simply by eye contact and head movements. I have such a wonderful cast who all have trained in many different areas within the performance world. It is so wonderful to watch what each of them bring to this piece based on their own experiences.”

Williams’ piece is called “SCREWS.” The cast is Stephens, Spillman and Star Davis of Natchitoches, Natalye Bradley of Lafayette, Jacquelyn Kay of Bossier City and Pettiss. Abi Reeves is lighting designer.

Knoff’s work is called “Mutual.” The cast is Jordon Thomas of Baton Rouge, Duggan, Jairus Killings of Syracuse, New York, and Cochran.  Eden Wyandon is lighting designer.

Arrieta Cuesta’s work “Apple B-39 St.,” will feature Wilson, Kay, Murr, Tran, Bradley and Gomez. Naiomy Perez Del Valle is the lighting designer.