One of the highlights of a dance student’s career at Northwestern State University is the opportunity for your original work to be performed at the annual Senior Dance Concert.
Due to the COVID-19 virus, this year’s seniors, De’Vante Bethley of Baton Rouge, Samantha Burgess of Denham Springs and Cathleen Oviedo of Covington, won’t be able to showcase their work. Students work with faculty and fellow students for months to choreograph a work that means a great deal to them personally.
“We were to design the whole thing and bring this creation to life,” said Oviedo. “It was our responsibility to find people to work lights and sound for the show, have production meetings, work with designers, take care of the posters and programs and build it from the ground up.”
The piece by Bethley is inspired by the black experience.
“I touch on the subjects of slavery, racial inequality and the prison-industrial complex as they relate to black people,” he said. “I want to inform under the guise of entertainment. I utilize only African American dancers, and each section of my piece pertains to a different subject matter relating to the black community. My goal is to amplify a voice that is often times disregarded.”
The work by Burgess is a narrative about trying to fit into the hearing world as a deaf or hard of hearing person. The protagonist of the piece struggles with wanting to fit in with everyone else. Unfortunately, due to the lack of knowledge and communication barriers, they are rejected from the rest of the world. In the end, the protagonist ends up being “heard” and accepted into the rest of society.
“It is all based on my life and my experiences while attempting to navigate the world,” said Burgess. “Even though we are unable to see our works done this semester, I am hopeful that we will get to see our works on stage in the future.”
Oviedo’s work is a story about life and how there are things that happen to us that make us feel alone. However, the main character has a protector the whole time trying to take care of her even though she doesn’t know it.
“It’s kind of interesting at a time like this, since we are being told to isolate,” said Oviedo. “There is a light at the end of this tunnel though. Even so, this is very disappointing for us after the hard work we have put in. But I’m looking forward to the opportunities to come.”