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Student Dancers Spring On Stage for Annual Showcase

Alaina+Maureen+during+Ebb%27s+Flow+in+the+Spring+Concert+2017
Alaina Maureen during Ebb's Flow in the Spring Concert 2017

Alaina Maureen during Ebb's Flow in the Spring Concert 2017

Cara Gonzalez

Cara Gonzalez

Alaina Maureen during Ebb's Flow in the Spring Concert 2017

Anthony Karambelas, Staff Reporter

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Spring season is upon us. It’s that time of year when trees dance in the wind, animals dance in the wind, and people dance on stage. If you don’t believe it, all you had to do was attend the 2017 Spring Dance Concert.

Over the past semester, students interested in dance – majors and nonmajors alike – were grouped into five different dance numbers, all choreographed by award-winning professionals. Last weekend they performed their final pieces at the Luckman Intimate Theater.

Choreographers included: Bruno Louchouarn, who directed the dance entitled “Ebb’s Flow”, James Gregg “Lift the Veil”, Chisa Yamaguchi “Infinite”, Alesia Young “When We Travel This Road Again”, and Hae Kyung Lee “On the Way”.

All five performances were visually and technically unique. While all choreography was based on modern and contemporary styles, performers wore different costumes in each performance and imparted different moods. In “When We Travel This Road Again,” dancers moved to a myriad of abstract noises, rustling, bass drums and employed many lifts. The final piece in program, on the other hand, began slow with dancers inching across the stage and quickly transitioned to front handsprings and frontflips.

“There isn’t really any piano or anything classical that you’d expect for a dance concert. It’s mainly background noises, so you hear a little rustling of grass or woodwinds and then it’s like weird bass drums. It’s really specific to the piece and a lot of the pieces within the show are very abstract, but they do tell a story,” said Mary Becker, who performed in “When We Travel.”

Due to the lack of a proper soundtrack, dancers had to learn to sync together on more than just visual cues. They began to sense each other’s presence through breath.

“Honestly, the only way I can keep up with everyone and see where we’re all at is just to focus on everyone’s breathing. Because the great thing about the intimate theater is we’re so close together so you can hear everyone else breathing and so you go with everyone’s step and movements. We change it up each time, we don’t really focus on the time and the music, it’s the people themselves,” Becker said.

This improvisational aspect of the Spring Concert made it different from standard performances. By allowing for artistic expression, the choreographers enabled their dancers to craft a truly unique performance for each audience, making each new show as exciting as the last.

For many students, the Spring Concert served as their first experience with the dance department. Becker found out about auditions through an email from the TAD department chair. Starting in a beginner’s dance class, she quickly accelerated to an advanced modern dance class after being spotted by Hae Kyung Lee, the director of the Spring Concert. Soon after, Lee recommended her to audition in front of the concert choreographers, and Becker instantly found herself in two different showcase pieces.

“Dance kind of grew on me, especially modern dance. Taking the first class, I got hooked and I had to take another class this semester because you’re able to lose yourself in it. You don’t have to focus on everything else in your life,” Becker said. “It takes up so much focus that you can just breathe it all out. It’s kind of like screaming…but with your body!”

One of Becker’s dance partners was psychology major Maria Rodarte, who fell in love with staged movement. In high school she joined the Color Guard, and has since found herself returning to the stage.

However, Both Becker and Rodarte agree that people don’t often notice the hard work and talent required for modern and contemporary dance.

“You think modern dance, everyone kind of pushes it to the side and laughs a little bit, and it’s understandable; I used to do the same exact thing when watching it. But now I understand the amount of work that goes into it, the passion and just because something doesn’t have a straight up plotline or words, the great thing about that is it’s universal,” Becker said.

While it may be difficult to follow thematically, every dance has an inherent story. As audience members, there are some key ways to get the most out of a performance.

“Watch for the beauty behind every single movement. If they [dancers] are just moving one arm up, what does it mean to the person doing that or in relation to the people around them? What does the lighting mean for that? Just relate it back to something that’s familiar to you,” said Rodarte.

Rodarte and Becker advise those who are interested in dance to get involved as soon as possible. Even if it’s just a hobby, taking one dance class certainly won’t hurt.

“Based on my experience, if you see a class that looks cool, take it. Because just knowing faculty will give you another connection, which will help you meet another person. And that’s how I got into the production, just talking to my professor and having her tell me, ‘Just come here on this night.’ It’s amazing how much just showing up can do,” Becker said.

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Student Dancers Spring On Stage for Annual Showcase