DanceForce Member: Cynthia Williams
Artist: Kyle Marshall
Community Partner: Hobart & William Smith Colleges, Geneva
Kyle Marshall Choreography was invited to HWS Colleges to offer master classes, meet with students and faculty, and perform the Juried Bessie Award work “Colored.” The project came about when DanceForce member Ivan Sygoda had an unexpected opening in the company’s availability, which meant that we could share project costs and provide the company with a secure booking. The planning process involved conversations with DanceForce member and HWS faculty member Cynthia Williams, Ivan Sygoda and Kyle Marshall, eventually agreeing upon a mutually convenient time: November 4-7, 2019.
Choreographer and artistic director Kyle Marshall came with two dancers: Oluwadamilare Ayorinde, and Myssi Robinson, who comprise the trio of performers in “Colored.” All three participated in multiple master classes, workshops, and discussions with HWS students and faculty and were actively engaged throughout the residency. The two master classes were Intermediate Modern Dance and Dance Composition; a workshop/discussion with students and staff at the InterCultural Affairs House, and presentations at two academic classes: Africana Studies Black Images/White Myths and FY Seminar Interrogating Race. The company also had an open tech/dress rehearsal, the formal performance, and a lengthy talk-back following the performance. Kyle Marshall and dancers were especially engaged with students of color while on campus, and the talk-back following the performance offered a meaningful exchange.
“Colored” itself provided the audience with striking images and superb dancing. The strong relationship between the three dancers created an absorbing environment—the trust, love, and respect was palpable throughout.
Promotion and marketing for the company’s residency was extensive. The HWS website carried a story on the event for two weeks prior to their arrival; posters utilizing the photography of David Gonsier made a stunning impact, a promotional ad ran on the HWS/Rochester NPR affiliate radio station, an announcement was sent electronically to all HWS faculty and staff, and the separate events were also announced to targeted audiences, both within and beyond the campus community. Partnerships included the Dance Department, InterCultural Affairs, Student Activities, and the Africana Studies Program.
The audience for the performance (145 students, faculty, staff, and community members) drew significantly more people of color than many previous dance concerts; the outreach to InterCultural Affairs, the Africana Studies Program, and the First Year Seminar Program attracted students not currently involved in the Dance Department, thereby increasing our reach. It was an important and meaningful residency. The conversations about the work resonated long after the company returned to New York. We hope the experience at HWS provided the company with new insights into “Colored,” which was performed along with a new work at BAM a month later.