Dancers at Manhattanville College showed off their talents this weekend in the college’s annual spring dance concert.
This year’s production featured student choreography and scenes from “West Side Story.” Students got the chance to work with choreographer Julio Monge, who was a member of the cast in the show’s initial run on Broadway. Monge worked personally with the late Jerome Robbins, who directed and choreographed the 1957 film version.
“When West Side Story came out it was ground breaking,” said producer/choreographer Peter Pucci. “It combined ballet and contemporary movement into contemporary storytelling. Robbins created new ways of shooting movement that had never been done before.”
Junior Cynthia Alonzo performed in both a student-choreographed piece and played Anita in the "West Side Story" excerpts. Though she previously performed in the spring dance concert, this year was different since she had to sing as well as dance. When Alonzo and her classmates performed a dance about the changing of the seasons last year, the show was more comedic. This year’s concert is more serious.
“You have to think about what the character would be thinking at a certain time,” Alonzo said. “Last year was more like fun and games.”
Pucci, who has choreographed shows across the United States, said choreographing drama and comedy is a challenge because it deals with two separate types of movement. Pucci said in comedy, choreographers have to find movements that are funny while drama tends to be more technical. This poses a challenge for students, including freshman Elyse Desmond. Desmond, who comes from a studio background, said learning other dance techniques has been different than what she is familiar.
“I worked with the same kind of stuff for a long time,” Desmond said. “Her,e we get a lot of professionals from New York City who teach us a wide range of dance and know a lot about the industry.”
The concert has two performances left -- 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday; both are in Brownson Hall.