Last fall thanks to the generous support of the Ruth Caplin Award in Dance, the University of Virginia’s Dance Program was able to invite three alumna back to grounds to set original choreography on undergraduate students for the Fall Dance Concert. One of the alumna was Erika Choe, a recipient of one of the inaugural Ruth Caplin Awards for Demonstrated Artistic Excellence in Dance, who graduated with an Interdisciplinary degree from the College in spring 2015 with focus on Dance, Psychology, and Arts Administration. During her time back on grounds, Ms. Choe created a duet entitled and again… on two fourth year dance minors and Arts Scholars in dance Vivien Fergusson (College ‘18) and Gabrielle Struckell (College ‘18). Reflecting on her experience at the end of her residency, Ms. Choe said that “Coming back to UVA to create on the[se] dancers has been an incredible reminder of how nurturing and stimulating the dance program is and has impacted my dance career…This piece created on Gabby and Vivien carries notes of interdependency, empowering rigor and unveiled recuperation. It aims to explore the performance of grind and subsequent restoration through contrasting movements of grit with that of tenderness.”Head and Artistic Director of Dance Kim Brooks Mata noted that “This was an incredibly valuable opportunity for current dance students to learn from alumna of the program who are developing as professional artists, while also supporting recent alumna with an opportunity to create and present their own work.”
Ms. Choe’s piece was chosen to represent the UVA Dance Program last March at the Mid-Atlantic South Regional American College Dance Association (ACDA) Conference held in Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University, thanks in part to a grant from the UVA Arts Council. As a result, the Dance Program received the exceptional honor of having and again… selected as one of 12 pieces, out of more than 40, to be performed in the closing night Gala Concert. Adjudicators praised the choreographer (Choe) for her engaging movement vocabulary that was “always surprising, strong in attack, and true to its own language.” They applauded the piece’s compositional structure, calling it “striking and extremely innovative.” Each adjudicator also took time to compliment the two undergraduate dancers for the deep level of embodiment that they demonstrated in the performance, with one stating, “hats off to the performers for their strong, exceptional performance.” Brooks Mata said that, in addition to being a great honor for the artists involved, the invitation to perform in the Gala Concert helps bring visibility to the quality of our Dance Program. “It is not often that works from dance minor programs are selected for this event alongside works from universities that offer BA, BFA, and MFA programs in dance. This distinction reflects positively on our institution, our program, and the caliber of our student artists.”
Erika Choe is currently living in New York and performing with Yin Yue (YY) Dance Company, as well as working as a junior graphic designer with AldenWolf. You can find out more about her work on her website: www.erikachoe.com.