Hilary Sbei, Dance

photo by Allen Tone

Montgomery County Community College graduate Hilary Sbei, East Norriton, danced through grief and hope, and found a new direction for herself.

Sbei cites her solo performance of “Through the Storm” in spring 2011 as her greatest accomplishment. She wrote the dance about her mother’s struggle with and triumph over breast cancer. Sbei saw her mother’s strength, love and determination and wanted to share those emotions and to show the power of movement.

“My pieces are important to me because it is a part of me that is put on the stage for everyone to see. I have finally found ways to express myself in which I cannot put into words or explain to people. The more I learn about dance, I have a yearning to know even more and work through it,” she explained.

After transferring to Montgomery County Community College in 2008, Sbei grew both as a dancer and a choreographer. She attributes that growth to MCCC’s professors, performing arts showcases, and the American College Dance Festival Association, which she had the opportunity to attend last March as a member of the Dance Performance Ensemble.

Choreography was new to Sbei when she first came to the College. In one of her first courses, fellow student Rebecca Savage, then-president of the Dance Performance Ensemble, saw potential in Sbei and mentored her through her first dances.

“I knew I loved to dance, but putting written work for other people was something I was timid in trying.  After getting over the fear, I went for it,” she said.  “The science behind choreography always intrigued me.”

Sbei’s development as a dancer and choreographer has seemed limitless, she said. In just two years, she has pushed her boundaries and grown beyond them. Reaching outside her comfort zone, she wrote her first ballet, “Vieux Passion,” bringing together choreography, directing and performing. Sbei also danced a solo in the College’s 2010 fall performance “Underlying Spreadsheet,” which helped her develop her own style of movement.

In addition to “Vieux Passion,” “Underlying Spreadsheet” and “Through the Storm,” Sbei has choreographed “Addicted,” “Better Man” and “Isolated Ninjas,” and “and she collaborated on “Business Casual,” “Dreamscape” and a hybrid hip hop- modern dance piece titled “My Life.”

Sbei feels that collaboration with other students and faculty is essential in developing as a performer and opening an artist’s eyes. She draws inspiration from choreographers and the everyday movements she sees, from people walking to talking on the phone.

“I observe people, how they move, capture it and form it to my own body for new movements or variations of movements I have used many times before,” she said.

~ by Whitney L. Etter

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