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Dancers, composers discuss collaboration

November 18, 2013

Senior Samari Jackson-Preston knew she loved dance when she came to Stephens College, but it wasn’t until her coursework in the dance program here that she began to really understand herself and her passion.

“I figured out who I am through this journey,” she said following Sunday’s matinee of the Senior Dance Concert.

So it was fitting that she choreographed “I Am; Who I Am,” an interpretive dance set to original music composed by University of Missouri student David Witter. The piece, which featured a solo performance by Carrie Collins-Whitfield, was one of six original new compositions and dances showcased this weekend at the Macklanburg Playhouse.

During a question and answer session with attendees on Sunday, dancers were asked about getting the chance to work with composers.

“It’s beautiful,” said LeeAnn Davis, whose Southern Suite of dances was set to the music of MU student Trey Makler. “There’s much more energy and much more life.”

MU musician and composer Ben Colagiovanni said he would not have thought to create the jazzy sounds of his composition, “Pick Up Sticks,” without collaborating with Stephens senior Jordan Jackson.

“I never would have written it,” he said. “And it was great to see my stuff live and that visual interpretation.”

The music was the backdrop for Jackson’s “Battle of the Susies.”

The collaborative project came about when Dr. William Lackey, assistant teaching professor in MU’s School of Music, and Carol Estey, artistic director for dance at Stephens, got together last semester and talked about the idea of working together. Dancers and composers jumped at the possibility—a rare opportunity for even professional dancers and musicians.

Both MU and Stephens students recommend the collaboration continue each year.


“This is an invaluable experience to gain at a young age,”Makler said.

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