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University Dance Company Addresses Mental Health in Spring Concert

This week, the University Dance Company will contribute to the campus conversation on mental illness through movement. The contemporary modern dance group’s spring concert, including a piece titled “Beauty Out of Sorrow,” builds on the company’s effort to make an impactful statement about the issues of depression and self-harm amongst college-aged students.

“Mental Illness is not easy to talk about, think about, or deal with on any level,” explained its director, Elisha Clark Halpin. “This dance piece finds no solutions to this problem, but is our reflection and exploration of the emotional impact of living with it.”

The dancers prepared for this undertaking with research, including movie viewings, blog readings, and interviews. “The movement came from the images, emotional responses, and expressive needs” found in the various stories they encountered, Halpin said.

Additionally, Sylvia Plath, an American poet who ultimately committed suicide after a battle with depression, served as an important literary inspiration for the show. While the company understands that they are just “scratching the surface,” it hopes to “open a door for understanding that will go long beyond what it shares on stage.”

When discussing the inspiration behind this year’s theme, Halpin explained that she lost a dear friend, Carrie, in 2004 after a long battle with mental illness. “For Carrie, life was a battle she engaged in daily,” Halpin said. “Her suicide forever changed me and my need to understand how to respond, to speak, to confront, to engage, and to heal.”

For a preview of the concert, you can watch the “Beauty Out of Sorrow” segments one, two, and three. The live performance takes place from March 3-5 at 7:30 p.m. in the Pavilion Theatre. Tickets are $3 each.

About the Author

Alex Calderaro

Alex Calderaro is a junior majoring in Supply Chain Management from Central Jersey. As a first generation Penn Stater, she has found a home here in several places, including her sorority, and, of course, Onward State. You can contact her at [email protected] or follow her on twitter @alexcalderaro.

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