An original work choreographed and performed by two Hope College students received recognition during the Central regional conference of the American College Dance Association earlier this month out of a highly competitive field that included works from large universities by professional choreographers.

"The Will/Memory,” by seniors Emily Mejicano-Gormley and Nia Stringfellow, was one of only 11 pieces chosen through adjudication to be performed during the event’s Gala Concert on Monday, March 19.

Also based on the adjudications, “The Will/Memory” was named an alternate for the June 6-9 national ACDA National College Dance Festival.  The regional conference selected two works and two alternates for the national festival, which will be held at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

“To have these students’ work accepted to both the gala concert and as an alternate to the national performance at the Kennedy Center is a true testament to both the training in the dance department and students’ artistic talent and hard work,” said Matthew Farmer, associate professor of dance and department chair. “Most concert pieces chosen for the Kennedy Center performance come from large D1 universities, and are usually dance works created by faculty or guest faculty/professional choreographers.  To have a dance piece created by two students placed on the same level as works of professional choreographers is both outstanding and an honor.”

The honorees were selected from among 44 works that had been submitted to be presented during adjudicated concerts at the four-day conference, which was held at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Except for Hope and one other undergraduate private liberal arts college, the 25 schools with work in the adjudications were all universities.

Mejicano-Gormley is a biology major and dance minor from Orland Park, Illinois, and Stringfellow is an exercise science major and dance minor from Frankfort, Illinois. 

“The Will/Memory” combines, with a transition, solo works created individually by Mejicano-Gormley and Stringfellow for the department’s spring 2017 student dance concert.  Stringfellow’s “The Will” expresses tenacity in the face of oppression, and Mejicano-Gormley’s “Memory” is a testament to the difficulty of leaving and moving forward.  The adjudicators stated that the combined piece “acts as a platform to consider our country’s history of racial bifurcation in deeply personal, moving terms.  Its simplicity in design allows us to ruminate on complex themes.”

The two students also designed the costumes for “The Will/Memory.”  The work is set on “This Bitter Earth,” by Clyde Otis (Max Richter re-mix, performed by Dinah Washington), and “Once Upon Another Time,” by Sara Bareillis (edited).  Lighting design was by Erik Alberg, technical director for events and conferences at Hope.

The ACDA consists of 13 regions.  Hope is in the East-Central region, which includes Michigan and Ohio, but was unable to participate in the East-Central conference because the event overlapped with the department’s major annual concert, Dance 44.  The department instead exercised the option to participate in the Central region, which includes Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.