From the spiritually exuberant opening Ijexa, performed by the Sankofa African Dance Ensemble, to the quiet poignancy of SUNY Brockport Assistant Professor James Hansen’s Fade to Snow and Gray, to the fun finale Benny-B-Good choreographed by Dr. Darwin Prioleau, Chair of the SUNY Brockport Dance Department, the Best of Brockport Dance was a great success! The performances by the students (and faculty) were outstanding! The event, held April 14th in the historic performance hall at Hochstein Music School in downtown Rochester, energized the Brockport Dance faculty and founding members of the Friends of Brockport Dance in moving forward with an important project—building a scholarship funds for newly admitted students in the Brockport Dance programs.
Over 250 attended the performance, with 100 also attending the pre-performance reception that served as the inaugural event for the Friends of Brockport Dance. According to Professor Hansen, "there was a wonderful sense of celebration that existed in both the reception and performance." In addition to celebrating dance, the purpose behind the Best of Brockport Dance was to raise money for
scholarships for talented new students. As Dr. Prioleau noted, SUNY Brockport dance faculty are going out and seeking to recruit dancers from all across the country and are having some success. However, the SUNY Brockport Dance program needs scholarship support to attract the best young dancers and give them the resources to focus on mastering their art. Hansen believes that the enthusiasm expressed by the audience during this event will continue to provide a foundation on which to build and will impact fund raising efforts by the Friends for scholarships.
The Best of Brockport Dance also brought the outstanding dancers and faculty of SUNY Brockport into the heart of the Rochester community. As SUNY Visiting Professor and Guest Artist Bill Evans put it:
The Best of Brockport Dance concert was a great first step in establishing a Rochester presence for our faculty and student dance artists. I hope that we can become integrated with and relevant to the artistic life of greater Rochester on many levels . . . [and] ask all those who attended Best of Brockport Dance to help spread the word to their friends and associates.
During the reception, Dr. John R Halstead, President of SUNY Brockport spoke about how to create a recipe for a Best of Brockport Dance. He said the ingredients include honoring one of your own, the late beloved faculty member Santo Giglio, to whom the entire performance was dedicated. Eleven of his family members were present, along with his widow Mary Ann (pictured here with Dr. Halstead), who announced an award in his name for choreography. To that you add a dynamic chair for the Department in Dr. Darwin Prioleau, mix in outstanding faculty like Bill Evans, James Hansen and others and, of course, the students. The dish was served well done.
This blog, in addition to serving as the website of Friends of Brockport Dance, is another part of SUNY Brockport Dance’s efforts to build bridges and connect with the Rochester community. By highlighting dance throughout the Rochester and Western New York area through this blog, the Friends and Brockport’s Dance faculty hope to build the community of dance and a wider audience for an art form that so naturally complements the musical arts that are such a foundation of the Rochester community.
I apologize for the delay in this post on the Best of Brockport Dance performance. Chalk it up to busy lives and the end of the academic year. In addition to those included in this post from the reception, we hope to share some pictures of the performances themselves in the coming weeks. We’ll probably post them individually with information about the performances and dancers.