Temple’s dance department is home to many outstanding faculty members who have helped to create the prestigious reputation the department holds today.
Part of what has helped the dance department gain such a reputation is the adjunct dance faculty, but unfortunately they are not usually given opportunities to perform.
“Every now and then, we would have the adjunct faculty perform at a faculty concert, but it was very rare,” said department chair Dr. Kariamu Welsh. “It has occurred, but it was not something they could depend on.”
On Oct. 26 and 27, four young and talented artists were featured at the LIFT dance festival in the Conwell Dance Theater, sponsored by the dance department. LIFT, created by Welsh, serves to promote and support the exciting and creative work of Temple’s adjunct dance faculty.
“The LIFT concert is the dance department’s way of acknowledging the importance of
the artists who are viable and indispensable members of our faculty,” Welsh said. “This performance outlet for them is our way of thanking and encouraging them as artists and teachers.”
The performers featured at this festival were LIFT curator Olive Prince, and faculty members Meghan Durham, Shavon Norris and Noemi Segarra. Welsh came up with the idea for LIFT this past summer as a part of the “I See You” initiative she implemented when she became chair of the department. “I See You” was designed to improve the relationship with the adjunct faculty, accompanists and the community that surrounds Temple, Welsh said.
With the help of adjunct faculty member Olive Prince, Welsh put the concept into play.
“I took the ball and ran with it,” Prince said.
After this initial festival, Prince and the dance department said they hope to make LIFT an annual event.
The planning of LIFT was crucial in making the event a success, particularly in the selection of the performers. Performers for the festival were selected from the adjunct faculty
through an application process.
LIFT was meant to showcase the work of creative and innovative artists who are now beginning to make their marks in the Philadelphia area. The final selection of artists jumped at the chance to participate in this festival because it provided them with an outlet to perform.
“As an artist, it is really important for me to take this opportunity to perform,” Norris said.
Durham, founder and director of Meghan Durham/Merge Dance, said she was eager to perform in LIFT as well because she considers the adjunct faculty dancers a very important part of the Temple community
The artists performed very challenging and inventive pieces, each with a particular message to send to the audience. Durham performed first and presented “Fragment of (Me)mory.” She used different lighting sources to illuminate some dancers, while leaving others in the dark.
“‘Fragment of (Me)mory’ is about the way we make meaning of our life experiences,” Durham said.
Norris performed next with a solo work titled “Said,” which is based upon the African-American tradition of testifying that allows individuals to express their life experiences and gives hope and encouragement to those listening
“This work explores the stories that live inside me based on the experiences from my childhood,” Norris said.
Segarra presented the third work of the night, “NO.”
“‘NO’ is a structured improvisation responding to many fronts – first and utmost, what it means to have ‘NO’ as the first syllable of my name,” Segarra said.
Prince presented the final work of the night, “Spare Change,” which she created when asked to be a resident artist at the Community Education Center at 3500 Lancaster Ave. in April.
“It explores classism and poverty in our community,” Prince said.
Prince used both images and dramatic dance moves to make a statement about poverty and the unfair treatment of the working class in the U.S.
“I decided to combine visual images with the abstract expression of the body to create art that brings these images to the forefront,” Prince said.
With approximately 200 people in attendance each night, Welsh deemed LIFT to be a success.
“It was well-received and I thought the level of performance was outstanding,” she said.
Lydia Kanthak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.