May. 15, 2023 By Ethan Marshall
The dance program at Queensborough Community College put on its annual spring concert at the Queensborough Performing Arts Center on May 11 and May 12, during which students performed choreography by multiple guest artists.
The guest artists for whom the dancers choreographed included Raphael Xavier, Robert Battle, Bakary Fall and Queensborough Community College Associate Professor of Dance Emily Berry. The program’s students took the audience through an eight-piece performance, featuring both ensemble and solo acts.
Xavier’s work, “Tea in the Sahara,” retells the classic Lewis Carroll story “Alice in Wonderland” from an Afrocentric perspective. Battle’s “Strapped” is an ensemble work created when he was directing his company, Battleworks. Fall’s “Baobab Spirit” presents Sabar, the national dance of Senegal. “Moving Through” by Berry explores grief inspired by and in collaboration with the student dancers.
“This is an exciting couple of nights because this is our first time back in QPAC in five years,” Berry said. “It’s so wonderful to be in this newly, beautifully renovated theater.”
In addition to being the college’s associate professor of dance, Berry is also the founding director and co-creator of B3W Performance Group, a social impact arts organization. B3W is committed to collaboration, as well as reflecting and revealing the world we live in through community-building workshops and multi-disciplinary performances.
“Our professional and rigorous training is designed to help students of all levels reach their goals in the field of dance,” Health, Physical Education and Dance Assistant Professor Nicole McClam said. “With our workshops, we provide a unique opportunity for aspiring artists to develop lifelong career skills.”
Following the performances, two of the 14 dancers in the program were presented with awards. Zarina Medwinter received the Rising Star Award and Reyona Oyama received the Evelyn Carlin Award, which is presented to the performer with an impeccable work ethic and has been an all-around phenomenal part of the world of dance.
Queensborough Community College Dance Instructor Kevin McEwan served as the rehearsal director for the performance of Baobob Spirit. A lecturer in traditional African dance ethnography, McEwen has presented his research at numerous conferences, including the Season of Dance in Barbados and the African Theatre Association’s Annual International Conference in Nigeria. His tireless dedication to supporting young people led to the creation of a foundation for him to start his own dance company, the Kofago Dance Ensemble, where he provides training and performance opportunities to young aspiring performing artists.
Additional reporting by Paul Frangipane.