Ailey Seniors Showcase Their Choreography


Olivia Miranda (FCLC ’18) rehearsing her piece with Morgan Coyle-Howard (FCLC ’19) and Rachele Perla (FCLC ’19). (Jon Bjornson/The Observer)


For the past month, seniors of the Ailey/Fordham B.F.A. program have been conducting rehearsals late into the night in preparation for the B.F.A. Senior Choreography Concert on Oct. 30 and 31. The Observer interviewed two senior choreographers, Olivia Miranda, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’18, and Henry McCall, FCLC ’18, and two dancers, Morgan Coyle-Howard, FCLC ’19, and Charles Scheland, FCLC ’20, about their experience working on the showcase.

The B.F.A. Senior Choreography Concert is a platform in which seniors are able to  choreograph their own five- to six-minute dance pieces.  The seniors are then given the opportunity to perform these pieces on stage for their families, friends, and the people of New York.

Although all seniors are required to choreograph for this concert, Miranda started preparing for the showcase before the semester started. “I started [working on the piece] around June and came up with some movements and ideas. I came up with an official concept in July,” said Miranda before adding that, “the concept is still changing.” Concepts were produced into reality as rehearsals for the showcase began.

When asked about the rehearsal atmosphere, Miranda said it is “a lot more intimate because we have a smaller cast, only five of us in a room as opposed to twenty.” Coyle-Howard, one of Miranda’s dancers, describes rehearsals as “more for [their] expressiveness and personalities to shine through.”

The concert bred the transition from student to choreographer for the seniors. “You have to look at [dancing] with a different lens that’s no longer a student lens,” said Miranda. “I’m the one at the front of the room when usually I’m the one being judged. I’m scrutinizing [my peers], but there’s a really great friend component because these girls are my friends. I’ve enjoyed seeing my piece come to life with people I admire as dancers.”

“I personally don’t like to choreograph, but I’ve found this experience has been more rewarding than I expected it to be,” she continued. “And now I’m choreographing and giving feedback. It’s cool to be on the other side of it. It’s been a much better experience than I expected. I’m happy with it.”

When asked if he enjoyed choreographing, McCall said, “I really enjoy [choreographing] because I love making movement, but it’s really hard for me to add the more emotional side and really create the characters within the movement. It’s a fun challenge.”

Cast members weighed in on the balance between authority and friendship. “It’s just like being taught by any other professional choreographer,” said Scheland, one of McCall’s dancers. “They have unique choreographic voices, so they deserve our respect and attention, but I have to admit that jokes, stories and tangents are far more frequent when rehearsing for my friends.”

As interesting as the behind-the-scenes of the showcase is, the seniors will certainly bring an exciting performance on stage. When asked about their pieces, each choreographer responded with enthusiasm and an intense devotion as they talked about their passions.

Miranda, the choreographer of the only dance on pointe, spoke of her contemporary ballet piece, entitled “The Escape Artist.” She said the piece “serves to convey that although we don’t get to choose what we dance, we get to choose how we dance. And that’s the importance of the piece, the individuality and the artistry of these ballet dancers.”

McCall described the inspirations of his piece, dubbed “Misdirected Frustration”: “I’m fascinated with the human condition and human interaction. My piece is focusing on how largely pairs interact with each other, and the relationships and dynamics there. The physicality of how you react to other people.”

Other than being just a performance or required assignment, the senior choreographers want audiences to leave with something after watching their art. McCall beckons audiences to “take a look at the relationships you have in your life.”

“I want [audiences] to get this idea that the dancing itself isn’t what matters, but it’s the people that are dancing that matter,” said Miranda. “Everyone should come see it because everyone has worked so hard with the six weeks we’ve been given. There are many aspects that no one is seeing until it’s put on stage. We want these pieces to really be a reflection of who we are as dancers and as emerging artists and professionals. They’ll get a little piece of us and our work.”

So if you are interested in viewing the incredible creations of the most talented dancers Fordham has to offer, come see The Ailey/Fordham B.F.A. Senior Choreography Concert at the Ailey Studio Theater on Oct. 30–31!