It was a longshot. "Like a No. 16-seed reaching the Final Four," says proud professor Kristen Daley. But Sonoma State University senior Hannah Ingwerson defied the odds this year to make it to the big dance -- literally. This summer, her dance piece, "For Example," will be performed at the American College Dance Association (ACDA) National Conference at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC.
Her piece was one of two from the 40 pieces performed at the ACDA West Conference in Arizona in March selected for the national convention.
The 24-year-old Santa Rosa High School grad transferred to Sonoma State from Santa Rosa Junior College. Even though she has been dancing since age 3 (starting with her grandmother's tap class), Ingwerson says she never imagined this kind of success. Seeing the dance, it's tough to believe this is just the second contemporary dance piece she has choreographed.
"Every time I see it, I'm totally engaged," says Daley, dance professor and chair of the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance, "and I've seen it many, many times."
The eight-minute piece has a minimalistic feel, using two pools of white light, which four dancers in sullied white tunics and sweatpants use to fade themselves in and out. Their quick, sharp movements contrast with the calm chamber orchestra and piano nocturne score, giving the feeling of an internal struggle.
"The original idea was born from frustration and being trapped in my own thoughts," says Ingwerson. From there, it evolved into portraying honesty. "I would tell the dancers, 'I don't care how pretty it is, I want it to come from an honest place.'"
The adjudicators at the regional conference had this to say about Ingwerson's dance: "Stirring rendition of light and movement that evoked mystery, wonder and remorse. Exquisitely crafted work that speaks equally of the cognitive, affective and kinesthetic realms."
Though it is the first time Sonoma State has been invited to the national convention, both student and faculty pieces have made it into the regional finals each of the past four years.
Ingwerson is understandingly brimming with enthusiasm about the honor, but Daley seems equally excited. "It's an opportunity to broaden our perspective of dance by seeing the best in the country," she says. That works for Ingwerson, who says she's most looking forward to seeing other pieces and making new connections in the dance world.
Ingwerson, Daley and Dance Professor Christine Cali will attend the ACDA Nationals at the Kennedy Center June 9-11 representing the ACDA West Region and Sonoma State University with student dancers James DeSoto, Kyle Her, Farrah McAdam and Maddie Watson performing "For Example" twice on the national stage. The trip is funded by the support of the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance, the School of Arts and Humanities, and Academic Affairs.
Top: Hannah Ingwerson in a 2015 Sonoma State dance performance.
Photo by David Papas
Bottom: Ingwerson (center) poses backstage with dancers from a 2015 Sonoma State performance of "For Example."