In the Loop
Student Stories : Feb 26, 2015

Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater inspires students during weeklong residency in Gainesville

By Leland Henry

Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater (SPDT) continued its relationship with Gainesville during its recent weeklong residency focused on seniors, caregivers and students. Having visited Gainesville for the first time in 1992, artistic co-director of the Minneapolis-based company Suzanne Costello said it was “poetic to be back in this city.”

The dance company joined forces with multiple local organizations and schools the week of Feb. 16-21, 2015 for a variety of community-based dance projects. Funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, SPDT visited UF Health Shands Hospital, the Senior Recreation Center of Alachua County, Expressions Arts Learning Academy, P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, Santa Fe College and the University of Florida School of Theatre + Dance.

“We’re as interested in performing in a community as we are in engaging in as many facets as possible,” said Costello.

The week culminated in a performance at P.K. Yonge featuring SPDT company members, UF students and students grades 5th through 12th. Costello said the piece involving UF dance students, entitled Islands, tells the story of love and loss and how people have a desire to connect with each other, yet feel separated.

“We are all about putting real life on stage, not glorified people, but people from the world around us,” said Costello.

Nita Little, visiting assistant professor and host of SPDT, said that what makes this dance company stand out is its emphasis on the dramatic and expressive aspect with movement driven by clear intensions.

Dina Zinni, a senior astronomy major, played the part of “Shadow” in the performance on February 21. She said her experience with SPDT has inspired her to look at dance in a new light.

“I have learned to move with intention,” said Zinni. “See something before you reach for it, feel something before you react to it, listen to someone before you respond to them. This intention truly brings dancing to the next level.”

It is this type of inspiration that Zinni said is why guest artists are so important to the student experience.

“Having a chance to work with all of these diverse dance companies and guest choreographers provides us with a chance to explore different styles, test what inspires us and allows us to carve a pathway for our future through networking or by our own endeavors,” said Zinni.