How passionate students of the arts respond to class cancellations, part II
Sam Kosseff (they/he) is a junior triple majoring in Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies, Integrative Arts Studies (IAS), and Dance. Rather than taking Composition III—a dance course that was due to be taught this semester—they are pursuing an independent study in dance film. They enjoyed the process of creating a dance for camera in their Composition II class last fall and were thus invigorated to sharpen their camera work and editing skills through this project. However, with two independent studies already running in a department of three faculty members, Sam is being advised by IAS professor Michael Curry.
His independent study consists primarily of two dance films. The first is a solo that explores, “the dichotomy of performing for yourself vs performing for someone else,” as a reflection on themes he grappled with in Rosie Herrera’s residency last spring but “with a trans twist.” The second is a group work set on eight dancers that juxtaposes two faces of loneliness: a resignation to being romantically single and the eventual, peaceful acceptance of it. “It’s sad,” he sums up the tone of the work. “I don’t think I make many choreographic pieces—especially group pieces—that aren’t.” Although his focus is in dance film, Sam didn’t want to miss out on the familiar experience of making something for the stage. Consequently, he is adapting his group piece to be both a film and live work.
With their group piece, Sam marvels at the relationship dynamics between pairings in their cast. Young love feels different from honeymoon bliss, which varies drastically from old love. Each of these distinct phases are represented by their own respective couples throughout the piece, in addition to a widow archetype who depicts a more mature outlook on solitude. They have been so excited to see the cultivation of tenderness between their cast members over the mere month they’ve gotten together. All of these energies create a contrast that emphasizes the protagonist’s persistent state of being alone.
Apart from Sam’s piece, this term there are two faculty works, a residency with guest artist Gabrielle Lamb, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Nalani Brown’s independent study. With so many rehearsal schedules, finding a slot in the week when his entire cast is available has proven difficult. Being emotionally and creatively invested in this process, he doesn’t bat an eye at working over his lunch periods or holding numerous small group rehearsals with one to four dancers scattered throughout his week. Nevertheless, he can’t shake an underlying feeling of worry that his dancers will feel exploited simply by the commitment he asks of them, especially when they aren’t promised a culminating performance of this piece. As someone heavily invested in the dance community at Goucher, he wants people to be taken care of.
Another challenge they’ve met this semester is the noticeable dip in guidance compared to what they’ve received in previous composition classes. While they’ve gotten a fresh perspective in their feedback from Michael Curry, they believe dance professors can leave criticism to be desired: “I’ve only heard good things; Goucher doesn’t rip you apart like it could sometimes.”
Sam’s dance film will be presented in the dance department concert Friday, November 17 and Saturday, November 18. Additionally, he will have his live work considered to be sent to the American College Dance Association conference series early next year.
By Tess Seibert ‘25