Topic: College of Fine Arts

April 25, 2017

Students perform in "Reimagining Mary"
To bring to life the adventures of a beloved character first introduced to readers by British author P.L. Travers, student dancers are using a mix of narration, music and modern movement combined with a stunning set.

Explore the life of one of the world’s most famous no-nonsense nannies in the Department of Theatre and Dance’s contemporary dance production, “Reimagining Mary”. Performances take place on the University Theatre stage at 7:30 p.m. April 26-29.

To bring to life the adventures of a beloved character first introduced to readers by British author P.L. Travers in1934, students will use a mix of narration, music and modern movement, said Susan Koper, one of the show’s choreographers.

She and Audra Sokol, artistic director of the departmental dance company, had long been interested in reimagining the story about a beloved English nanny who blows into London to care for the Banks children.

"Who was Mary P. and where did she come from? How did her childhood experiences shape her into the nanny we know and love?” Koper asked. “What we wanted to explore was how we could add to the mystery of her magical story.”

In their research, Sokol and Koper studied the stories and personal life of Travers, who originated her popular series—there were eight books in total—before Disney made its first famous film adaptation in 1964.

“We came across an article regarding the remake of the Mary P. tale. It became clear that the untold life of Mary as a young girl and her transformation to the Mary P. we all know was the narrative we wanted to tell,” Koper said.

Sokol and Koper also had to escape their artistic comfort zone for “Reimagining Mary.” The two worked in partnership on the production with assistance from fellow faculty member and assistant choreographer Melanie Swihart.

“In previous dance concerts in the department, multiple faculty would present shorter works that did not necessarily relate to each other through a storyline. We decided on using an overall narrative, which is an approach as choreographers we don’t often utilize,” Koper said.

Tickets for “Reimagining Mary” are available for purchase at University Theatre Box Office, open from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The cost is $18 for the general public and $15 for students, faculty, staff and senior citizens. New this year for University Theatre Mainstage productions is a tickets price of $10 for children 12 and under. Contact the box office at 765-285-8747 of visit for more information.

By Jillian Wilschke