Ole Miss senior presents original dance piece this weekend at regional competition

Posted on Mar 8 2019 - 5:50am by Nancy Jackson

Ole Miss will host the American College Dance Association South Conference this weekend. This year’s competition, themed “It’s Happening!,” will feature senior journalism major Tucker Robbins, who began dancing and choreographing only two years ago.

Robbins’s piece “Our Time” blends a variety of dance styles such as ballet, hip-hop and contemporary with a spoken poem by Kurt Schroder that explores the concept of how time is always moving forward in life and rules all things.

Robbins said that this ultimately creates an elegant and sophisticated dance piece that can be enjoyed by those with a history in dance or those with a simple appreciation for the art form.

“You can watch my piece without knowing what you’re getting into, and from the beginning you can understand what’s going on,” Robbins said. “If I’m going to put something out there for people to see I don’t want a select crowd to just see it. I want it to be received by as many people as possible but still be appreciated by the dance community.”

Elementary education major Genevieve Rishel, one of the dancers in “Our Time,” said her favorite aspect of the piece is the spoken poem and the larger message it leaves the audience.

“The words shape the movements and it all comes together as a piece that forces the audience to reflect on themselves and their lives and how they are spending it,” Rishel said. “It brings up things about time that I had never considered, and it really digs into the true impact that time has on all of us.”

Jennifer Mizenko, ACDA South Conference director and artistic director of Mississippi: The Dance Company, selected Robbins’s dance piece.

“Each year I select (one) student work from the Ole Miss Student Dance Concert I think is worthy of being adjudicated,” Mizenko said. “I work closely with the student choreographer to help them improve their piece and expand their choreography skills.”

The adjudication process examines the choreographer’s choices and how well the dancers execute them. The judges will analyze how choreographers choose to represent their dance pieces through specific decisions such as staging, music choice and movements in relation to the music.

Judges will then select 12 pieces to be performed at the weekend’s culminating formal event, the Gala Concert, where two pieces are selected to perform at the National Conference. Robbins said getting into the Gala would be a major accomplishment.

“I would be over the top proud of myself if my piece made it to the Gala because I would feel like I have accomplished something that a lot of people can’t do without having grown up and gone through the training,” Robbins said.

In addition to the competition, dancers who registered for the conference can take master classes, participate in workshops and view concerts over the weekend. Rishel said that the camaraderie that ACDA brings is one of her favorite aspects of the event.

“Every year I make a point to go to at least one class that will bring me out of my comfort zone, and I always end up leaving with at least some new knowledge or skill,” Rishel said. “This helps me grow as a dancer and as an individual.”

The Ford Center will host three “adjudication concerts” at 7:30 p.m. on March 10, 1:15 p.m. on March 11, and 7:30 p.m. on March 11. The conference’s Gala Concert will be at 7:30 p.m. on March 12, and tickets are available at the Ford Center box office and website.