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2024 Spring Dance Concert by Hunter Dance Department

Darvejon Jones and his students
Darvejon Jones and his students, each holding their gifted flower.  Photo credits:@huntercollegedance

The Hunter Dance Department presented its sold-out 2024 Spring Dance concert between April 18 and April 20, featuring contemporary, jazz, ballet and other forms of dance choreography.

Choreographers Alberto Del Saz, Darvejon Jones and Zakiya Harris helped put together performances by students at the Peggy Theater, showcasing months of practice that turned into art. Each day, three faculty members and two student-led pieces were performed, lasting no more than 10 minutes.

“I think as a dancer myself, as a performer, this is the performance that being on stage is the ultimate kind of payback, the reward of all these years of suffering, rigor, and working and pain and rehearsals,” said Del Saz, who is also an adjunct professor.

The showcase is composed of contemporary, jazz, and West African styles from the dance faculty; with ballet, Afro-Contemporary, modern and a blend of street and club works like hip-hop and House by students, which is all part of their Dance Workshop course.

Although the three-day show was sold out two weeks prior to opening night, that didn’t stop spectators without tickets from watching the show. The slight overflow spilled into the lounge area and people watched the performances from a widescreen monitor the staff placed outside the theater.

Apart from being a Hunter instructor, Del Saz is also the director of the Nikolais/Louis Foundation for Dance, a world-renowned dance company promoting choreographies by the late Alwin Nikolais and Murrary Louis. He has been teaching his class in order to preserve the foundation’s dance philosophy.

All three faculty choreographers worked with students from all backgrounds and styles of dance to create a piece that was memorable.

On opening day, Jones gave his students a rose to commemorate their performance.

“I only give my students roses when I’m really proud of something…and this doesn’t happen very often with student work that I create,” he said.

This semester’s concert showed a change within Hunter’s Dance Department because the classes and performances emphasized the African diaspora, according to Harris. Closing the concert, the West African dance performance choreographed by Harris received loud applause and cheers from the audience.

One of the student choreographers from opening day, Lia Aleman, choreographed a piece with 11 dancers on her team and received a booming applause inside and outside of the theater. This was her first time creating “a piece of this kind of caliber,” and she said she was happy with the turnout.

Cory “Nova” Villegas, an adjunct faculty member, assistant director of Soul Dance Co., and second year MFA candidate, said Hunter Dance is something very unique and that many people don’t know or appreciate.

The audience leaving the Peggy Theater to congratulate their dancers Photo credits: Carol Bautista

“But this is where you see a real heart, real soul, real passion for art and dance,” she said.

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