SUNY Potsdam artists push through pandemic

SUNY Potsdam dance major Brianna Polite ‘21 will present a media dance piece portraying an escape from slavery, as part of a Feb. 5 virtual presentation to celebrate Black History Month. SUNY Potsdam photo

POTSDAM — An effort by SUNY Potsdam media and dance students to press forward with their art in the face of a pandemic continues in February. SUNY Potsdam’s Department of Theatre and Dance will feature a virtual presentation titled “Knowing the Past Can Shape the Future,” on Friday, Feb. 5 at 7:30 p.m., on

The production is a celebration of Black History Month and a continuation of a Media Dance Work Series that melds videography, choreography and dance, in a cross-department collaboration prompted by shuttered theaters and other venue closures due to the coronavirus.

“Students everywhere may have been strongly affected by the pandemic, but SUNY Potsdam dance students keep on making it happen,” said Cynthia DuFault, the assistant dance professor spearheading and overseeing the project. “By its truest nature, dance has given these students and viewers a sense of wellbeing, spirit and creativity, through the thick of it.”

The production features a variety of student-made media dance creations ranging from light-hearted to deeply introspective, taking on themes from the Black struggle for liberation, equal rights and justice. Students hope to keep a spotlight on diversity and inclusion, not just in February, but 365 days a year, said dance major Brianna Polite ‘21, who will present a work titled “The Runaways,” a chilling portrayal of those attempting to escape slavery.

“We are telling stories of the struggle for human rights through media dance throughout the year,” Polite said.

Black History Month is a reminder to dancers of the tradition of diversity within the art form, DuFault said.

“We take delight in celebrating the many achievements and contributions of Black American dance artists who, throughout our history, have done so much to make us the culturally diverse, compassionate and creatively rich community of artists we are today,” DuFault said.

In addition to Polite, “Knowing the Past Can Shape the Future” will also feature student choreographers/dancers Shamara Bey, Brittney Brown, Nasir Chassé, Aicha Konate, Tatianna Montemorano, I’Tik Phillips and Taylor Post.

The Media Dance Series kicked off last fall, presented each first Friday in October, November and December. It continues in February, March, April and May, followed by the Spring Informal Dance Concert on May 12.

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