CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified senior Ellie Schmidt within the photo. Elon News Network regrets this error.
“Semicolon,” a student-run dance production three years in the making, will make its debut Oct. 20 at 7 p.m. in Roberts Studio Theatre with two additional shows Oct. 21 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Directed and choreographed by junior Pheriby Bryan, the free, 40-minute show explores different, intertwining narratives of those impacted by suicidal ideation.
Junior Meredith Peck said she remembers the moment in their freshman year when Bryan walked into her room to tell her the idea for the project.
“I remember just sobbing because it just felt like something that was just fated to happen, something that needed to be on campus,” Peck said.
The performance incorporates excerpts from William Burleson’s “Semi-colon,” a series of essays about struggling with suicidal ideation published by a student who Bryan attended high school with.
Bryan said the essays were one of the main sources of inspiration for the performance and that Burleson’s voice helps guide and narrate the performance as recordings of him reading the essays tie together the performance’s four dance pieces.
In addition to the eight dancers, including Bryan, the performances also feature the Elon Camerata choir and several speakers and panelists — including Burleson — who will be speaking with the audience after each performance.
Peck said her favorite thing about being a part of “Semicolon” was seeing everyone connect with material and use it as a way to express themselves, connect with one another and process their own emotions.
“Mental health is something that is really hard to talk about,” Peck said. “In a way, dancing it is more healing because a lot of things can be danced but not said.”
Bryan said that although the topic is dark and painful, she hopes people will engage with the performances with a feeling of hope.
“That's what the semicolon represents, is a moment that you could have chose to end a sentence but decided not to,” Bryan said. “You could have chose to end your life, and he decided not to, so it's really a symbol of hope.”