Panoramic Dance Project: United Through Dance

The story was initially published on the Technician page on Nov. 16, 2017.
Emma Berg, Staff Writer; Photo by Drew Hickland

The Panoramic Dance Project is an NC State dance company focusing on inclusion, diversity and self-expression, which will be showcased in the Dance Programs Fall Concert alongside the NCSU Dance Company this Thursday and Friday.

‘Panoramic’ can be defined as “a comprehensive presentation of a subject” or a “range” by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and encompasses everything the dance company represents. They focus on cultural forms of dance such as African, Latin and hip-hop and use these dance forms to create themes of individuality and social justice in their performances.

Francine Ott, the artistic director of the company, spoke about the importance of dance and how it can send a message to the audience.

“Dance, to me, is a universal language,” Ott said. “So even if we don’t have the words and don’t understand everything that may be happening, dance is a way to help people connect with other cultures and understand what is happening socially.”

Ott explained that the concert deals with humanity on a global scale.

“It’s a beautiful thing to recognize that these diverse styles [of dance] bring in different cultures and can help people open their minds that life doesn’t just happen one way,” Ott said.

Pieces including “Agua Furiosa” and “James” will be performed this Thursday and Friday. “Agua Furiosa” deals with issues of race, gun violence and economic inequality by using a metaphor of water. “James” was choreographed by Ott and tackles issues of individuals dealing with external forces.

Solteria Ross, a first-year studying aerospace engineering and a member of Panoramic Dance Project, commented on the powerful message of “Agua Furiosa.”

“One part in ‘Agua Furiosa’ where we do the ‘hands up, don’t shoot,’ is instrumental with Black Lives Matter and touches all of us to an extent,” Ross said. “Dancing in that piece brings awareness to our culture and makes a difference within ourselves. We’re not just doing a piece to have fun, we’re actually touching lives and making differences.”

Ott said that “James” explores her work in the mental health field through art and dance. Maya Sturgies, a second-year majoring in international studies and a member of the Panoramic Dance Project, felt that this piece serves as an outlet for dealing with struggle for herself and other dancers.

“We are all in college, and we are all stressed all of the time,” Sturgies said. “It’s a stressful time in our lives, and we not only have a place to come to and express ourselves, but also a dance where we can express ourselves.”

Many of the dancers feel the Panoramic Dance Project serves as a place where they build a community.

“So far, my favorite experience is the overall camaraderie,” Ross said. “I love how we are from all different races and ethnicities, and we all believe in different things. But, we can come together and do something together that we all genuinely love. It’s a good safe space, and I can express myself.”

The Fall Dance Concert is a place for dancers to showcase their talent, but more importantly demonstrate their personal experience and sense of community through dance.

“We’re so used to being entertained all the time,” Ott said. “So, I really hope it goes beyond entertainment for [the audience] when they see the show. I hope it is inspirational and transformational for them and makes them want to get out and do something and find a way to become a voice in an uplifting way.”

Ott said she also hopes that audience members walk away with a sense of compassion for others.

“This entire concert is a reminder to be human, to support each other, to remember your community, but be one, dance with each other and love each other,” Ott said. “I think we need that now more than ever.”

Tickets to the Dance Program Fall Concert can be purchased online or through the box office for $5 for NC State students and $8 for NC State staff. More information about the concert, the dance program and the Panoramic Dance Project can be found at https://dance.arts.ncsu.edu/.

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