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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

August 19, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Accent

Dancers look for innovation in newest company

The crashing and harsh lyrics of “Pardon Me” by Incubus clash with the graceful twirls of four girls dancing in a Dillingham studio. They arch their backs and elegantly extend their arms toward the ceiling, as the artful poise of ballet mixes with the thundering guitar of the alternative-rock song.

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From left, sophomores Erica Bartle and Sarah Feinberg rehearse one of their dances Sunday in Dillingham. On the Floor is a dance group that creates routines for all types of genres. Taylor Mcintyre/The ithaca

As the girls of the On the Floor Dance Company break from the center, they move to dancing in pairs. One set moves to the back, leaping into the air, arms and legs skillfully controlled in their beauty. In the front, the two girls’ bodies collapse forward, caving their backs into the release of emotion.

A company committed to showcasing innovation and mixing it with creative expression, On the Floor Dance Company will be performing its second annual “workshop performance” on April 5.

The 12-member company performs a mix of pieces from all the different genres of dance — from contemporary, to ballet, to point, to tap — and will be showcasing their work from the entire year at the performance.

Unlike some of the other dance companies at Ithaca College, On the Floor does not focus on learning for a specific performance. At their semester auditions, dancers are chosen and then choreographers preview their dances, allowing the dancers to select what routines they want to be in.

The company works on dances throughout the year with no more intention than to become better choreographers and dancers, said co-artistic director and founder Dana Shapiro.

Shapiro said the company calls their performances “workshops” because the show is not about having perfect routines or an impeccable performance. The company is meant to be an exploration of the dancer’s abilities, she said.

“We don’t want it to be just about product,” she said. “We want [the performance] to be a really fun and informal showing of what we can do.”

Shapiro, a senior, created the company in her sophomore year as an opportunity for dancers to choreograph and continue to grow in all different styles of dance. As a new club, the company has not had much experience performing.

“We’re still a baby club,” Shapiro said. “We’re still trying to figure things out, but we are staying true to what [the company] is — choreography.”

In its dances, the company tries to make sure its choreographed piece has an opportunity to evolve, as they work on multiple pieces at a time.

All the pieces the company does are choreographed by students in the club. It is an opportunity that many of the members take advantage of — eight out of the 12 dancers on the team choreograph a dance.

Sophomore co-artistic director Taylor Conti said flexibility and collaboration in the choreography of the dances is what sets the group apart.

“We do a lot of revamping,” Conti said. “It helps us to grow as choreographers.”

Sophomore Sarah Feinberg, who choreographed a contemporary dance to Katy Perry’s song “I’m Still Breathing,” said the dancers are able to experiment with numerous genres and skills with few limitations.

“Our dances come from how [the dancers] take the movement,” she said. “There has been a lot of collaborative work through the process of choreographing.”

As Katy Perry’s smooth voice croons the words, “The clock is ticking,” at their practice last week, their agile limbs tick in tight and controlled motions over their heads.

Their bodies collapse as their limber feet move deftly backwards. The dancers’ fluid bodies turn and leap to the soft melodies of the song, expressing the emotions hidden in the sound.

Sophomore Susannah Faulkner, who choreographed the ballet dance to the Incubus song, said the diversity of their dances is what will make for a great show.

“We really experimented with movement and tried out a lot of different things, which made for a diverse repertoire,” Faulkner said.

Through all of its experimentation and collaboration, On the Floor still remains close to its true purpose — a form of expression for all of its dancers and choreographers to enter a different realm where satisfaction is the primary goal.

“It’s really about an escape from reality,” Faulkner said. “That’s what dance has always been.”

On the Floor Dance Company will perform at 6:30 p.m. on April 5 in Dillingham Center Studio 3.