Testimony: 5 Stories in Motion

Dance Capstone Concert promotional poster—By Emily Kaiser, UCA Publicity Intern

The Colorado State University Dance presents this semester’s Senior Dance Capstone Concert, Testimony: 5 Stories in Motion. Graduating dance majors Katelyn Doyle, Cassie Eron, Madison Martinek, Jenny Trenchard, and Mohammed York are preparing their final dance performance before completing their undergraduate dance education at CSU. The concert takes place Dec. 7 and 8 at the University Center for the Arts.

The capstone process

The group of seniors developed the concert’s theme around each choreographer’s desire to create a unique story, personal to his or her own life. Although each of the five stories are different, all of them delineate powerful personal statements about who they are as people and as artists. Under the direction of capstone faculty advisor, Chung-Fu Chang, each choreographer is expected to produce a group piece between seven and ten minutes long, and a solo between five and seven minutes long. Along with the dance concert itself, these senior dancers are developing portfolios to showcase their complete dance experience, including work prior to CSU, as well as their collegiate dance career. The Senior Dance Capstone Concert relies on collaboration from the CSU costume shop and technical team to bring the choreographers’ visions to life.

Messaging through movement

Katelyn Doyle’s group piece, “Timeless Dream” is about three different types of love we experience throughout our lives. The first section explores early love humans feel when they meet someone, get to know them better, and everything is “fun and new.” The second section is described as unrequited love: “This is when you love and care for someone, but the other person does not feel the same way back, however they make you believe they do,” Doyle clarified. The third section represents the love that brings you the most happiness and ultimate joy in life, whether it be from family, friends or a significant other. From jewel-toned leotards that remind Doyle of the colors of love, to varying lengths of skirts, multiple costume changes set the mood for each section.

Doyle’s solo, “Surrender” is about releasing negative people from her life. She describes the process as “Constantly putting effort into helping someone who isn’t changing or getting any better….and in the end, you don’t have the energy anymore to keep trying to help and keep that person in your life, so you eventually have to let them go.”

Cassie Eron’s group piece, “2 Out of 10” is a real-life interpretation of the statistic that 23.1 percent of female undergraduate college females are sexually assaulted. The piece is a story of life before, during, and after an assault. With ten total dancers, two soloists tell stories of their assaults, and display a message about how we can help those who have been hurt, as well as prevent similar events from happening in the future. The dancers’ white dresses represent the innocence and purity women are expected to have, while the two soloists’ dresses are dotted with red handprints “representing an assault and how their innocence is now stained by the actions of someone else,” Eron stated.

“The Aftermath” is Eron’s solo about the struggle of moving on after an assault. She strives to depict how the victim’s world is completely turned inside out. “You may not know who you are anymore and have to reevaluate the world you live in that allows things like this to happen to innocent people.” Eron’s white and red dress reflects the solo’s concept and is “meant to look like you’ve tried to wash the red stain out, but instead it just spreads.”

Eron’s group and solo pieces support the #MeToo movement as she wants to spread awareness about stopping sexual assaults, as well as believing victims when they speak about their terrifying experiences.

Madison Martinek’s group piece, “To Control // Be Controlled” is about how people dominate others in society and spans the perspectives of being controlled by others, being the one in control, or being on either end at different times in your life. The piece represents these three scenarios and concludes with the ten dancers breaking free from all forms of control.

Martinek explains the meaning of her solo, “Unbroken,” as “pursuing your dreams…even when life brings you down. Everyone has highs and lows, but we need to keep going for what we want to accomplish.” To Martinek, the title reflects our human strength, resiliency, and ability to find a way to achieve our goals. She hopes the audience engages with featured spoken word by Les Brown, Steve Jobs, and Louis Zamperini, understanding how it connects with her movement.

Jenny Trenchard’s group piece, “Grief is the Price of Love,” is a visual and emotional representation of what loss might feel like—whether it’s loss from death or a lost relationship—as individual grief is complicated to define. “I wanted to express in my piece that there is no right way to grieve. I am exploring what grieving entails and how you deal with it personally and how friends and support systems are there to walk beside you, rather than trying to ‘fix’ their situation. There is nothing to be ashamed about when grieving.”

Trenchard’s solo, “Only So Much to Give,” shows her vulnerable side as a person who is a giver. “You can only give so much to someone until you get emotionally, physically, and mentally burnt-out from always giving. I start to question if others would do the same for me as I would for them,” she admitted about the solo that expreses her worries about not being good enough for someone else. Throughout the dance, Trenchard will have red yarn unraveling from her. “I am using this as a visual representation of myself. When the yarn runs out, I fall and feel that exhaustion from giving,” she explained.

Mohammed York’s group work, “Growing from Concrete,” is inspired by critically acclaimed poet and artist, Tupac Shakur’s book, A Rose That Grew from Concrete. “It is that same idea that people of color are placed at a high disadvantage in the world we live in, and surprisingly through all of the odds that are stacked against us, we still grow and reach the surface,” he illuminated. Through hip-hop and costumes portraying blue-collar grocery-store employees, the first section of the dance portrayshow mass shootings in America have impacted ethnic and lower income communities. The second section is about the embodiment of love—the good and the bad—and features live vocals, and spoken word.

York’s solo, “What a Wonderful World,” is a satirical representation of the world, influenced by Louis Armstrong’s infamous song with the same title. “[We] say we live in this great world, yet there are so many monstrosities plaguing us every day. My solo focuses particularly on growing up a black [male] in America, and the heart-ache that comes along with that identity living in this country,” says York. He describes his piece as raw and explicit. “I’m not holding anything back simply because when a seed is placed in concrete it must not hold back in order to reach the surface,” he elaborated.

About the choreographers

Katelyn Doyle headshotKatelyn Doyle was born and raised in Colorado and began dancing at the age of three. Her early training included ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, lyrical/contemporary, musical theatre, poms, pointe, and tumbling. At age 15, Katelyn moved to the Michelle Latimer Dance Academy in Greenwood Village. She has participated in regional and national dance competitions and conventions. At Douglas County High school in Castle Rock, Doyle performed with the dance team and was involved in the International Baccalaureate Dance Program. Doyle started at CSU in 2015 and has attended the American Dance College Association, performing her solo, Exposed, in 2017, and in 2018, she performed the co-choreographed piece, Reverb, for the adjudication concert. She also attended the 2017 and 2018 National Dance Education Organization conferences. Three of Doyle’s choreographed works, Exposed, Reverb, and Leave a Light Onwere selected for performance in CSU Dance Concerts. Doyle has also been selected to dance in many faculty-choreographed pieces, including a piece by Chung-Fu Chang performed during the 2017 Chinese Spring Festival Gala, featuring Southwest China University. This fall, Doyle was a featured soloist in the repertory piece, Senza Fretta, choreographed by Salvatore Aiello, and restaged by guest artist, Jerri Kumery. For the past six summers, Doyle has participated in the Rockette Summer Intensive in New York City where she trained with former and current Rockettes. In 2015, Doyle received the Rockette Summer Intensive scholarship at the New York City Dance Alliance convention.

After she graduates this spring, Doyle plans on getting her Pilates certification and wants to move to New York City to pursue her dream of becoming a Radio City Rockette.

Cassie Eron headshotCassie Eronwas born in New York where she began dancing at a young age. After moving to Colorado Springs, Colorado, she studied at Northridge Dance Conservatory, training in ballet, pointe, jazz, contemporary, yoga, and Horton Modern techniques. At Liberty High School, she studied ballet, jazz, musical theatre, and Fosse, as well as costuming and acting. While at CSU, she has attended masterclasses with professional companies such as Complexions and The Martha Graham Dance Company, as well as world-dance masterclasses in Folklorico, Bharatanatyam, Middle Eastern dance, Bollywood, and African dance. Eron was on the College of Liberal Arts Dean’s List for Fall 2016, Fall 2107, and Spring 2018, and received the Creative and Performing Arts Award her senior year. In addition to performing in faculty and student pieces, her piece, Reliance,was featured in CSU’s 2018 Spring Dance Concert. Since then, Eron has choreographed, directed, and produced multiple non-traditional dance pieces for camera, collaborating with CSU students outside of her major. In 2018, Eron attended the American College Dance Association Conference, performing in Ubuntu,a faculty piece selected for the Gala Performance. Eron teaches jazz and contemporary at Canyon Concert Ballet in Fort Collins.

Eron’s goal after graduation is to become a professional choreographer and she will return to graduate school after a short performance career. Following her masters, Eron hopes to obtain residency, or become a dance instructor at the professional or collegiate level.

Madison Martinek headshotMadison Martinek grew up in Loveland, Colorado. She began her dance training at the age of three at Loveland Dance Academy, studying ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, and contemporary and joined their regional and national competition team at age seven. In high school, she attended ballet summer intensives through Colorado Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. She trained with Loveland Dance Academy until 2015 when she started at Colorado State University. At CSU, she took masterclasses from the Martha Graham Dance Company; Complexions Contemporary Ballet; Ormao Dance Company’s founder, Janet Johnson; BODYTRAFFIC; and MOMIX. Martinek has been a featured dancer or soloist in many faculty and student works and has also had three of her own choreographed works selected for the Fall and Spring Dance Concerts, including The Beauty Within Chaos, Reverb(a collaboration), and Inside the Sea. She has attended the 2016 and 2018 American College Dance Association (ACDA) conferences and in 2018, her collaborative work was adjudicated. She also attended the National Dance Education Conferences in San Antonio, Texas and San Diego, California.

After graduation this Dec., Martinek will continue teaching and choreographing at Loveland Dance Academy while auditioning for modern and/or contemporary dance companies. In the future, Martinek also hopes to obtain her certification in massage therapy specifically for athletes/dancers.

Jenny Trenchard headshotBorn in Changde, China and adopted at one year old, Jenny Trenchard grew up in Denver, Colorado and started ballet at the age of five. Jenny attended the Denver School of the Arts for middle and high school, studying Modern technique, Jazz technique, improvisational skills, and choreographic methods. Jenny studied at Classical Ballet of Colorado with Elizabeth Shipiatsky in Vaganova ballet method, and participated in their Nutcracker and spring performances for three years. During her time in CSU Dance, she attended the 2016 and 2018 American College Dance Association conferences, taking various masterclasses and performing Ubuntu, choreographed by Madeline Harvey, in the 2018 Gala. Trenchard attended the 2017 and 2018 National Dance Education Association (NDEO) where she took dance educational classes and networked with other dance teachers and therapists to increase her dance/movement therapy education. Trenchard has participated in student and faculty performances each semester throughout her four years in the dance program.

In addition to her B.A. in Dance, Trenchard will receive a degree in social work in Spring 2020 and will go on to earn a Master’s in Social Work. She hopes to integrate her dance passion and her dedication in social work to create a dance/movement therapy for foster and adopted children.

Mohammed York headshotMohammed J. York, is a native of Aurora, Colorado. He began his dance training his freshmen year of high school and graduated as Valedictorian of Noel Community Arts School in Montbello, Colorado. Throughout high school, he was involved with the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble in Denver where he was a Youth Ensemble Member for three years, performing and touring as a first and second company member and training in ballet, jazz, hip-hop, lyrical, Liturgical, contemporary, Horton-Modern Dance, and West-African style dance. He was also showcased in the International Association for Blacks in Dance Conference (IABD). York started at CSU in Fall 2015, and was crowned “Mr. CSU,” during homecoming week of his first semester. York is involved on campus as an Inclusive Community Assistant, and mentor for the Black African American Cultural Center. During his time at CSU, York has performed, as well as had his choreography featured at the American College Dance Association Conference (ACDA). His solo work addressing police brutality was honored in the 2017 ACDA Gala; he has participated in other works adjudicated at the conference as well. Additional performance and choreography opportunities include performing as the Nutcracker with Contemporary Dance Academy at the Fort Collins Lincoln Center, teaching dance classes at CSU, and choreographing the CSU Pageant. At CSU, York took masterclasses from Verbs Ballet, Ballet Hispanico, Complexions, Koffi Toudji, Redd Williams, Theo Jamison, Stephanie Powell, Christopher Page-Sanders, Winifred Harris, and Cleo Parker Robinson. Recently, he danced as a guest artist for Fort Collins’ own IMPACT Dance company.

Following graduation, York hopes to join a black modern dance company that gives back to the community through outreach and touring. He also has an interest in becoming a TV/radio host.

The Senior Dance Capstone Concert takes place at the University Center for the Arts on Dec. 7 and 8 at 7:30 p.m., and Dec. 8 at 2 p.m. Tickets are free for CSU students, and $10 for all other patrons. Tickets can be reserved online at csuartstickets.comor at the UCA box office Monday-Friday from 3:30-5:30 p.m.