Graduating dance seniors to hold compelling capstone project concert

This year’s graduating seniors will hold their capstone project concert April 21-23 at Space Place Theater in North Hall. Expect a diverse show comprised of ten performances, the final one composed by a guest choreographer including all the BFA seniors.


Gabby Drees

A University of Iowa student dances at North Hall on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022.

Grace Westergaard, Arts Reporter

This year’s Bachelor of Fine Arts dance concert will feature nine graduating seniors’ final works at the University of Iowa.

The concert will take place at Space Place Theater located in North Hall. There are three opportunities to attend, with shows running from April 27-29 at 8 p.m. Attendees can expect a concert filled with diverse works choreographed and performed by the students themselves.

Armando Duarte, UI Department of Dance professor and senior faculty member, also stands as the Bachelor of Fine Arts program director and as a member of the undergrad committee. Duarte said this concert is the event where each senior shows their capstone project, which is required to graduate from the program.

As the program director, Duarte oversees the production of the concert as well as each individual project and how they are placed together within the show.

“I have already seen several rehearsals and, really, it’s inspiring to see what the BFA seniors are doing. We [faculty] are very proud of all of them,” Duarte said.

Katherine Shamdin, who serves as the vice president of the Undergraduate Dance Organization, will perform her piece “Growing Bolder,” with research centered around boldness and decision making. This piece includes three other dances alongside Shamdin, who dances in the piece and choreographed it.

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“We talked about external boldness and what it means when you see someone be bold, and it’s clear that they’re making a statement in a group setting, versus when it’s bold for you inside of your body and inside of yourself,” Shamdin said. “It might be a small decision, or it might just be an act of courage, like saying something nice to someone; it can be really small things.”

Shamdin utilizes a large prop in her piece that she hopes to surprise the audience with when performance day comes.

Jenny Fairman is another graduating senior who is also involved in the Undergraduate Dance Organization as a general member and with a peer mentor position. Fairman choreographed a solo for her Bachelor of Fine Arts capstone that is centered around the authenticity behind how people answer the question, “How are you?”

“That question has always bothered me, and I was trying to unpack how we can authentically respond to that question and who we might give a more surface-level response to, versus who we would genuinely say how we feel to,” Fairman said.

Guest choreographer Shannon Alvis also created a final piece for the seniors. This is the first time a class of graduating seniors has brought in a guest choreographer to create a group dance.

“It brings the strength of the group. The nine students performing together is an interesting and nice work,” Duarte said.

This piece will close out the concert, making for a total of 10 performances in the show.

“It feels really special for us to be able to perform together for the last time as a class and to really share that with the audience and with the community,” Shamdin said.

In 2020, the Bachelor of Fine Arts dance concert went virtual because of the pandemic. Over the course of six weeks, Duarte said, the department had to change everything from in-person to virtual.

“The BFA students at that time — it was 2020, so almost four years ago now — they were very quick,” Duarte said. “They found locations, they did their things, they changed their ideas. I was mesmerized to see how fast they adapted.”

Three years later, the concert is back in person. Shamdin said people should know how much effort and time she and her peers have put into the project.

“We’ve been working on it all semester, and it really is such an exciting moment for all of us to share this research,” Shamdin said.