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‘Baggage Claim’ highlights dance majors’ senior projects


Photo: The senior dance majors performing “BAGGAGE CLAIM.” Auguste Bernick/ The Olaf Messenger


ADHD, loneliness, national identity, and emotional manipulation: the four main themes of the upcoming Senior Dance Concert “Baggage Claim.” Each performance in the upcoming show explores one of these themes and its impact on humanity.


Each year, the senior dance majors present a capstone project where they can choreograph a dance, conduct anthropological research, perform a commissioned solo, or engage with a blend of the options. This year, there are three choreographed projects and one anthropological research project, featuring the work of Lily Moreschi ’24, Olivia Haidle ’24, Ellie Fischenich ’24, and Beck Dziedzic ’24.


The four seniors titled their show “Baggage Claim” after noticing its similarities with a theater or performance hall. “The rules are different [in a theater] than what they are in the rest of the world. We felt the same way about a baggage claim — it’s in an airport, the rules are different there than they are in the real world,” Moreschi said. “In the same way, the baggage claim literally lets you take your own stuff from a [carousel]. All of us view dance as a way to claim and articulate intangible experiences.”


Fischenich’s capstone research “The Hopak: A Reflection of Identity and Politics in Soviet Ukraine” opens the show. In the program, Fischenich writes that she explores “how [the hopak] has reflected the historical narrative of Ukraine, particularly under Soviet rule, transforming from a Cossack dance into a powerful symbol of Ukrainian identity, resilience, and national pride.”


The other three seniors each choreographed a piece. Dziedzic’s “Attention Agency” is about ADHD and executive dysfunction. “every/one thing,” choreographed by Haidle, explores the influence of emotional manipulation. Moreschi focuses on loneliness in “Sisyphean Task.”


Each project requires extensive research and an approved proposal, the process beginning their junior spring. During the initial research process, Moreschi read “Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World” by U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. Moreschi was inspired by Murthy’s explanation of loneliness as an epidemic.


“There was this really vivid imagery of the writing of the cyclical nature of being lonely, of forming connections and losing connections,” Moreschi said. “I thought that this is such a human experience, what better way to explore it than through movement and the body.”


The program concludes with  the titular dance, “BAGGAGE CLAIM,” choreographed and performed by all four seniors. “A glorified curtain call,” as Moreschi put it, and a chance for the seniors to have fun and dance as a group.


For Moreschi, originally from Virginia, this performance is extra special because it’s the first time her parents will see her dance in person since high school. Between COVID-19, her parents’ work schedules, and the distance, it has been difficult for them to make a trip up to The Hill. “I’m really excited [for them to see] my silly dance at the end, but also to see the project I’ve put so much effort into and am very proud of,” Moreschi said.


Performances are on Dec. 7, 8, and 9 at 7:30 p.m. in the Kelsey Theater. The Dec. 9 show will be streamed online through St. Olaf Broadcast/Media Services. All shows are free and open to the public, no ticket required.

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