Senior dance majors prepare capstone “Raw Edges” projects for the stage

Annie Markel, Staff writer

Being a dance major is so much more than what meets the eye.

As any dance major will tell you, it is not just pirouetting and tutus all the time. All dance majors pursuing the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree track are required to take four choreography classes by the end of their senior year. In their final year they complete a capstone course alongside Choreography IV, during which they choreograph a 10 minute long piece that is centered around their capstone research topic.

Senior choreography is showcased on the Performing Arts Center stage as a ticketed event, and the entire department is involved with dancing and production.

However, this year, due to COVID-19, the show will proceed a little differently.

“Hopefully, we will be in person in the theatre and the dancers will have their pieces realized on the stage,” said associate professor of Dance, Solveig Santillano. “We hope we will have the scheduled performance times that we normally would have, we just won’t have an audience present.”

Taking an introspective look at dance and finding a topic to base their piece around is just one objective for the students. They also cast their own dancers through held auditions, work with lighting technicians and procure their own costumes for the performance.

This is not an easy feat for many and takes the entire spring semester.

Senior dance major Caroline Schroer chose to speak about how to integrate social progress into classical ballet while still preserving the sense of ballet tradition. Schroer noticed that there is a lot of stagnant and unjust traditions in classical ballet because no one wants to change them. These discriminatory principles are justified by excuses such as “it is tradition” or “it’s always been that way.”

“I think it is important to recognize that the ballet world has been constantly changing overtime,” said Schroer. “Continued change to reach a more equal and inclusive state is a good thing.”

Another senior dance major, Shelby Hildebrand, has chosen to research stigmas surrounding sex, sexual violence and relationships. She is also exploring how those stigmas differ between genders. Hildebrand, like many other dancers, chose a progressive topic that calls for social change.

“More than anything, I think all my choreography classes and getting to watch the classes above me choreograph such diverse pieces has helped inspire me,” Hildebrand said.

However, not all dance capstone projects are moving because of a progressive drive, but are moving because of personal connection. Some students chose a personal topic that they wish to share through the medium of art.

Senior dance major Austin Duclos chose to explore grief, and how each individual experiences it in a unique process that affects their future development. Some dances are meant to express emotion and Duclos is using his project as an outlet for creative resolution.

“With this education and creative outlet, I feel I have the ability to be vulnerable in my choreography,” Duclos said.

The showcases are scheduled for Apr. 23 to Apr. 25, 2021. The dance department will be live-streaming the performances to make the experience as normal as possible. The dancers hope to see you there!