The Performance Dance Ensemble's upper division dance class has been putting on "Mixed Emotions" at the years end. (Wesley Robinson)
The Performance Dance Ensemble’s upper division dance class has been putting on “Mixed Emotions” at the years end. (Wesley Robinson)

Tucked away in a seemingly uncharted part of Stony Brook University’s campus is a building called Nassau Hall. The plain exterior hides the ultra creative space that is the Center for Dance, Movement and Somatic Learning.

For the past three years, the Performance Dance Ensemble’s upper division dance class has been putting on “Mixed Emotions,” a mixture of student and faculty work, to create a show for the end of the year that serves as the class’ final project.

The class, which consists of 14 students, is completely multidisciplinary.

Students majoring in a wide range of subjects, such as marine biology and psychology, come together over their common love of dance. For example, Jennifer Jeng, a sophomore biochemistry major and dance minor, was involved in “She Falls Asleep,” “Snow in June” and “Tribute to Dancing Man.”

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“There’s a wonderful creative energy here,” Amy Sullivan said, director of the Center for Dance, Movement and Somatic Learning. “Everyone comes together.”

Sullivan, who has been teaching for 52 years, says  though her dance classes are rarely left with empty spaces, she is working on making the center more popular among students on campus.

Jeng said this semester was more stressful than in years past.

Towards of the end of the semester, the ensemble switched rehearsal directors because Alison Armbruster, the original director, had to step down for personal reasons. “Tribute to Dancing Man,” the final performance, was partially completed by the ensemble itself. The class had to meet outside of dedicated rehearsal time to accomplish Armbruster’s vision.

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“The work that we do here is significant,” Sullivan said. “The dancers come here with questions, and try to make some meaning the movent.”

The ensemble went on for three nights—Thursday, May 2 to Saturday, May 4—and started at 8 p.m., and performed dances from ballet to modern for an audience of about 50. Of all of the performances, Jeng said  Thursday and Sunday had the biggest crowds, while Friday did not have as many attendees.

“I think the shows went really well,” Jeng said. “The transitions were really smooth and everyone was really focused on what they had to do. A lof of the audience enjoyed it, so there was a lot of positive feedback.”

Carlye Denice, psychology major who graduated from Stony Brook in January 2012, performed one of two student choreographed dances entitled “Coming to Terms,” a dramatic contemporary dance in which Denice depicts her grandmother’s battle with Parkinson’s disease.

“Dancing taught me that I’m not weak, but brave and creative,”  Denice said. “You learn so much about yourself.”

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Anna Koskol, psychology major, performed the second student choreographed dance created by senior Scott Petersen entitled “Mind vs Body,” a contemporary/modern dance in which Koskol, wearing a hospital gown, moved erratically across the stage.

“When I perform this piece, I’m not Anna anymore,” Koskol said. “I’m trying to show the audience what I’m feeling. I really understand the piece also as a psychology major.”

Correction: A quote was previously misattributed to Amy Sullivan. This misattribution has been fixed along with the removal of a statement saying Sullivan is working to create a dance major. 

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