One of the most anticipated performances for a student during their time in the LINES Ballet BFA program is the senior solo concert. The LINES Ballet BFA Senior Solo Concert showcases each uniquely beautiful individual in the senior class with a solo choreographed by an artist of the dancer’s choice. It is a culmination of what they’ve learned, where they’re going, and who they are. Before the spotlight hits this year’s senior class this Friday, September 22, get to know the choreographers who created their solos!
Meet Nicholas Korkos, choreographer of Anna Olmstead‘s solo
Nicholas Korkos has danced professionally with Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Les Ballet Jazz de Montreal, Aszure Barton & Artists, Hubbard Street 2, Loni Landon Dance Project, Zhukov Dance Theatre, ANA Collaborations, Robert Moses’ KIN, project agora, tinypistol, San Francisco Opera, Opera Omaha and the San Francisco Symphony.
What was your first reaction when Anna asked you to choreograph her senior solo?
I was excited! For a new choreographer, it’s a great opportunity to explore ideas and movement and as someone newer to teaching, I’m always looking for the chance to verbalize movement, something that’s definitely learned through experience.
Is there a meaning behind this solo? If so what?
The solo’s music is a piercing aria “O Sleep Why Dost Thou Leave Me?” from Handel’s opera Semele. This version is sung (and edited) by the soprano who played the title role when I was in Opera Omaha’s production last year. In it, she begs sleep to come so that she can be returned to her “wand’ring love.” Anna and I are experimenting with a lot of different motivations but I’m using a lot of characterization and narrative visuals for her to play with. It comes back to the aria in the end because the piece is about the constant effort that we make, regardless of the result it garners.
The objective for me when working with any artist is to get as much of us, the artist and I, onto the stage as possible. For this piece I wanted to stick to physicality, and leave some of the abstract ideas I often like to use behind. They’re there, but this girl is going to be dancing!
What was the best thing about this process? What was the most challenging?
The most challenging part of any of the few choreographic processes I’ve had is being able to, well, choreograph. And that’s not to be sarcastic; trying to teach the quality of movement that you have spent a lifetime building and honing is an extraordinary challenge.
Taking it out of your body and placing it into another, through voice and physical demonstration, is a feat. A challenge though it may be, it’s also an enormous source of joy for me. That all being said, Anna is certainly up to the task. She’s approaching the process with an eagerness and determination that’s thrilling to see.
Meet Katie Scherman, choreographer of Tori Mazzacone‘s solo
Katie Scherman is an artist, choreographer, and teacher based in Portland, OR. Scherman has performed with Houston Ballet, Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, Washington Ballet, Hubbard Street 2, Zhukov Dance Theatre, Terpsicorps Dance Theatre, Bodyvox, and in numerous festivals around the world. In 2009, she was honored with a Princess Grace Award in Dance. Scherman holds a BFA in Dance from LINES Ballet/Dominican University and an MFA in Dance from the University of Oregon. Scherman has held guest residencies at Pacific University, University of Utah, LINES Ballet/Dominican University BFA program, and the Bodyvox Junior Artist Generator program. In spring 2018, Scherman’s company”Katie Scherman + Artists” will premiere a new work as part of BodyVox’s 20th anniversary season.
What was your first reaction when Tori asked you to choreograph her senior solo?
I was thrilled and deeply humbled. Having worked with Tori on “Me and I” with the Junior class, I had hoped we would get to work together again, and the universe conspired to allow us the time and space to create. I see bits of myself in Tori. So naturally, I felt inclined to help her walk into her greatness.
Is there a meaning behind this solo? If so what?
Tori and I worked on the solo in Salt Lake City during Salt Dance Fest, where I was teaching and she was a student. The timing allowed for a week of play and investigation of the material which would eventually evolve into her senior solo. Before meeting, I sent her a list of questions…What are your flaws? What does it mean to “Have it all”? Can you recall a moment when you felt resilient? Once we got into the studio, Tori realized she wanted the solo to be more about where she is going, as opposed to where she has been. This realization helped tremendously.
We had to go big. We had to go otherworldly because the future IS otherworldly. We can’t predict tomorrow, so we must dream of our most powerful self. The Self we ARE but most of the time HIDE. I wanted to provide her an opportunity to be loud, otherworldly, grotesque, ferocious, silly, weird, grounded, graceful. All of the parts of her, instead of just her beauty alone.
What was most surprising about this process?
The most surprising thing would have to be our shared insecurity with anxiety and indecisiveness. I realized that for both of us, being completely enraptured in the moment of dancing is the best antidote for anxiety. Because you get to go somewhere else. Somewhere magical.
It is really quite special working on my third senior solo with the LINES BFA. I have worked with Rachel Furst and Ha Vo, both gorgeous artists. But this time it feels different. I’m at a different point in my life, emotionally, and it has allowed me to be present with Tori, in a way I haven’t had before. I am so glad to have been a part of Tori’s journey with LINES. Tori, you are a rare light. I hope you always see your light. It is home. And it is you.
Meet Erica Felsch, choreographer of Emily McKinney‘s solo
Erica attended North Carolina School of the Arts at the age of fourteen. Two years later she was offered a full scholarship with San Francisco Ballet’s Pre-Professional Program. She performed in many company productions with SFB, and toured with the company in their production of “Don Quixote”. After three years with SFB Erica went on to dance with Colorado Ballet, Madison Ballet, Nova Ballet, NCSA Alumni Manteo, and Ballet Arizona. After three seasons with Ballet Arizona, Felsch joined Smuin Ballet in 2012. One of the highlights of her career was performing Odette/Odile in “Swan Lake” with Sierra Nevada Ballet. She has also performed two seasons with National Choreographers Initiative.
Is there a meaning behind this solo?
There isn’t a story or blatant meaning of the piece. It presents a tapestry of movement building on itself. There is change and growth, much like Emily’s new chapter after graduating.
What was the best part of this process? What was the most challenging?
The best thing about this process was choreographing on Emily. She was positive and energetic, and threw herself into the movement. The most challenging thing was finding moments of pause and breath in a 5 minute solo!
I was honored and excited when Emily asked me to choreograph for her. Emily has a bright spirit, and a lot to give as an artist. She will excel in anything she commits to. She is a quick learner, and responds immediately to direction.
Meet Nicole Clarke, choreographer of Alyssa Miligan‘s solo
Nicole recently graduated cum laude in the BFA class of 2017. A California native, she received training from Contra Costa Ballet and attended Orange Coast College prior to transferring to Dominican University/LINES Ballet. Nicole currently is teaching ballet and modern classes outside of the Bay Area.
What was your first reaction when Alyssa asked you to choreograph her senior solo?
I was incredibly thrilled and in complete awe to have been asked to choreograph for Alyssa. Alyssa was one of my dancers in my senior project, and she had asked me right after we had finished our final show. Naturally, I had been experiencing a whirlwind of emotions from witnessing all of our work unfold and come to life after months of preparation. Needless to say, I was extremely flattered and honored to have been asked.
What was your main objective throughout this choreographic process? What were you and Alyssa hoping to achieve?
The sole purpose of showcasing each individual in the senior class with a solo is to celebrate their journey and growth from over the past four years. My goal was to flourish Alyssa’s capabilities and continue to challenge any sign of vulnerability; whether that had to do with dance or just life in general, all while continuing to develop my own choreographic voice along the way.
Take in every moment and embrace it, remember how you felt, how it affected you, and how that made you want to give more of yourself. Trust in who you are and what you are capable of, remember that you are absolutely worthy and enough.
Meet Ivy Patterson, choreographer of Aislinn Evan‘s solo
Ivy Patterson is a dancer – choreographer residing on Beacon Hill in Boston, MA. She received her training from Interlochen Arts Academy where she received the Interlochen Young Artist Award in 2011. In 2015 she received the Veritas Cup and obtained Departmental Honors from the Dominican University of California where she holds her BFA in Dance Magna Cum Laude from the Alonzo King LINES BFA Program. She has performed works by artists including George Balanchine, Fredrick Ashton, Bronislava Nijinska, and Amanda Miller. In collaboration with musician Tim Erikson, Patterson choreographed “Fourtellings” for Amherst Ballet. She has taught and choreographed at many studios as well as at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Patterson has performed soloist roles for Pioneer Valley Ballet and her travels have led her to perform in Austria at the International University Global Theatre Experience and to participate as an artist in residence at Ottawa Dance Directive.
As a LINES BFA alumni how does it feel to have a current student ask you to choreograph her solo?
The LINES Ballet BFA at Dominican University of California’s experience is unique. Although our individuality is honored and celebrated at LINES and Dominican there is a thread that connects us, all of us woven together. Working with Aislinn reminds me I will always be part of this.
What was the most surprising part of this process?
Aislinn’s choice of music and story immediately resonated with me. We were so clear on what we wanted to explore.
Did you learn anything from this experience?
As a choreographer, it is so important to see the dancer as an artist and a creator. Each process reminds me of this. Working with intelligent artists such as Aislinn always teaches me something new about myself. My hope is that she learned a great deal about herself as well.
Merde, Girl, Merde!
Meet Dazaun Soleyn, choreographer of Natayla Shoaf‘s solo
Dazaun Soleyn graduated as the University of South Florida’s Outstanding Graduate with a BFA in Modern Dance. Upon graduation, Dazaun attended the Alonzo King LINES Ballet Training Program. Dazaun also attended Springboard Danse Montréal. Dazaun is currently a company member of Robert Moses’ Kin and a choreographer & teaching artist.
What was your first reaction when Natalya asked you to choreograph her senior solo?
I was honored and a little shocked that Natalya (Nat) asked me to choreograph her senior solo. When she asked me, I was living in New York, and I thought that she was calling to ask me to stay on my couch. But I was so wrong! I was, and still am, so honored to have the opportunity to play a part in her college experience at Dominican.
Is there a meaning behind this solo? If so what?
There is not a meaning or a particular narrative with the solo, but I walked into the studio with a clear intention of challenging Nat. I am fortunate enough to be close friends with Natalya so I have an idea of her career goals and aspirations in life. With those things in mind, I do my absolute best to create a process that pushed Nat to manifest the full potential of her gifts! I want her to be prepared to embrace and overcome all that is ahead of her in life.
The most surprising thing about this process is all that it is. It is a movement playground, a therapy session, a place to laugh hysterically, and sweat endlessly. I am so grateful for it all.
Did you learn anything from this experience?
I am learning more and more to trust the process. Trust that showing up in a creative space and committing to the work, or art form, will yield a result no matter what.
I would like to tell Natalya to move forward in this world with love, confidence and appreciation for who she is and who she is becoming. Value every aspect of her being and bravely share it with the world.
Meet Ha Vo, choreographer of Bri Wilson‘s solo
Ha Vo moved to Brooklyn shortly after graduating from the LINES BFA program in 2016. She is currently taking a video-editing class and is dancing, choreographing and collaborating in different movement-based projects around New York.
I was delighted when Bri asked me to choreograph her senior solo! Bri was in my Senior Projects two years ago and to be able to work with her again was exciting but also, refreshing because we’ve each gained some experience since the last time we shared the studio together. Bri came to me a few months ago when we first started working on this piece with a poem by Mary Oliver, Wild Geese.
We began by playing with certain lines of the poem and how they would conjure feelings of nostalgia. Those moments in the poem were what really sparked the rest of the piece.
From there, we talked about childhood and how memories are put back together ever so slightly, different each time we revisit them. In that same vein, the dance is sprinkled with movements that feel childish and highlighted with moments of comfort and bliss. Bri felt there were images of: shifting ground, hammering heart, waves, metal clicking into place, puncturing, shattering, on the verge of deconstruction, words stuck in the throat and relinquishing. In the end, we have a piece that is about taking something apart or scattering a collection and the process of reassembling those things and how we learn about ourselves better through that process. The title plays with that idea and the word recollect, to recall a memory.
Meet Arturo Fernandez, choreographer of Kylee Sherbert‘s solo
Arturo Fernandez is a native of Oakland, CA, and began dance training at the School of Performing Arts of USIU in San Diego. After only 2 years of intensive study he joined San Diego Ballet in 1976. Other companies he’s performed with are California Ballet, Arizona Ballet, New Jersey Ballet, Ballets Trocadero de Monte Carlo and Pittsburgh Ballet Theater. After moving back to California, he joined Oakland Ballet for a short time and ODC/San Francisco (11 years) and there served as the assistant to the choreographers from 1988 until Spring of 1991. Arturo has choreographed for the James Sewell Ballet, Inland Pacific Ballet, and Alonzo King LINES Ballet, among others. From 1992-2017, he was the Ballet Master for Alonzo King LINES Ballet, as well as assisting Alonzo King in the creation of new work. For more than 2 decades he has been an integral part of the Alonzo King LINES Dance Center, the LINES Training Program and the LINES BFA program.
What was your first reaction when Kylee asked you to choreograph her senior solo?I was honored and excited.
What was your main objective throughout this choreographic process?
I wanted to do something that would show her off, but also something that challenged her and that she could sink her teeth into. I think this solo is mostly about transformation.
Did you learn anything from this experience?
To never put any preconceived notions on whomever you work with. Kylee graciously accepted and surpassed anything I threw at her. If there was something that was difficult, she tackled it as best she could head-on.
Kylee just to continue to dance beautifully and delve deeply. It’s an honor to work with these beautiful young talents. I love creating for them as it develops my creative process and keeps my love of dance alive.
Meet Molly Rogers, choreographer of Charlotte Carmichael‘s solo
Molly Rogers is an adjunct professor and integrative advisor at Dominican University. She designed and implemented the inaugural dance history curriculum at the Alonzo King LINES Ballet Training Program and Summer Program, where she serves on the faculty teaching Critical Perspectives in Dance. She holds an MFA in Dance from UC Irvine.
Charlotte is a brave and curious collaborator with a steadfast work ethic and unshakable sense of self. Working together at the beginning of her senior year has been a privilege, both in terms of the actual dance-making and how it has prompted my own reflection around teaching the arts. In addition to choreographing as an adjunct professor at Dominican, I teach two performance studies courses that centralize issues of power, privilege and representation both on and off-stage. Charlotte has been a quiet and thoughtful presence in all my classrooms: as a freshman in Critical Perspectives in Dance, a junior in Politics of the Body in Motion, and as a sophomore dancer in my piece Bodies and Shores.
In a way, she’s been listening these past three years as I’ve come to more fully trust my teaching voice and appreciate my role at this university; knowing her as a dancer and scholar made me feel comfortable utilizing multiple modes of inquiry in the conception of this piece.
Our source material clusters loosely around rituals of presentation and display, as I’ve always been fascinated by the mini-performances that make up daily life and the formation of a public/private self. As women, dancers, and total introverts, Charlotte and I talked about how we contend with a culture that extols (hyper)visibility. These shared stories led my exploration into the highly gendered traditions of the debutante ball: escort etiquette, fashion rules, and physical practices. It’s been wonderful to work with a dancer who is interested in the possibilities of using choreography as research.
These days, that’s the kind of work I’m most drawn to: dance that treats the stage not as a beautiful escape or reprieve from the politics of the current moment, but as a space to wrestle with the defining moral questions of now.
Meet Casey Lee Thorne, choreographer of Erin McKay‘s solo
Casey Lee Thorne was born in Taylorsville, North Carolina, and received her training at American Repertory Ballet’s Princeton Ballet School in New Jersey. In 2010, she graduated as part of the inaugural class of the Alonzo King LINES Ballet B.F.A. Program, and founded Inside Out Contemporary Ballet in 2012. Thorne was awarded a 2014-2015 Fulbright Fellowship to Israel, and continues to teach and choreograph throughout the Bay Area. Thorne is currently working towards her MFA in Dance at Mills College, set to graduate 2018.
I was thrilled when Erin reached out to me about choreographing her senior solo. I remember how significant the process and performances of my senior solo were back in 2010. In my eyes, the senior solo project represents the fullest expression of the student’s learning in the BFA program. They transition from a student to an artist that has the agency to choose who they want to work with and what they want to say. It is such a special opportunity to synthesize their revelations to date.
When I first met with Erin I told her that I wanted to work collaboratively to craft a solo that expressed the full scope of Erin; a solo that encapsulated her raw beauty and physical intelligence, as well as her quirks.
We were on the same page, and our mutual enthusiasm set the stage for a fulfilling creative process. Erin told me she wanted her solo to be on pointe which I was really excited about, because it gave us an opportunity to develop new vocabulary and push classical forms. It also opened up several technical challenges to work through, which we had fun figuring out together. What I respect most about Erin is that she knows what she wants, she is clear about who she is, and she isn’t afraid to disagree. I hope she keeps that spirit alive as she enters into the professional dance world.
Grace has as much to do with strength as it does flexibility. Congratulations, Erin! Do you up there. Let it shine.
Meet Courtney Mazeika, choreographer of Rachel Geller‘s solo
Courtney Mazeika received her BFA from the University of Texas, Austin and trained under Summer Lee Rhatigan at the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance. She has performed in works by burnsWORK, Crossings SF, Project20, UNA Projects, The Foundry, and Bobbi Jene Smith. She currently works closely with Tom Weinberger and is proudly on faculty at the SF Conservatory of Dance.
I was so honored and excited when Rachel asked me to choreograph her senior solo. Rachel and I have worked together before, and I am repeatedly inspired by the curious beast that she is in the studio. For this solo, we worked almost entirely from a movement-based place, and less from a thematic or narrative idea. We wanted to make something that allowed Rachel to continue the research of her dancing, even while it was happening. We began to examine and organize her textures, power, precision, subtlety, and imagination. It was such a joy to work with Rachel, and I wish her the entire wild world.
Turn to your passion and your candor. Enjoy your own momentum. Make it simple and significant.
Come see the seniors shine!
BFA Senior Solo Concert
Friday, September 22, 2017 at 7pm
Angelico Concert Hall, Dominican Campus
Tickets are available at the door cash only $10, or free with a Dominican ID.