‘Reflections’ showcases student choreographers’ tricks and talents


Maia Cieply, Contributing writer

In just a few weeks, the Dance Department will be presenting its Choreography III Showcase, “Reflections.” Held Oct. 25-27, this year’s showcase will feature a new format to engage the audience in a new way. Usually, the showcase is held in the Walker Recital Hall; this year, the show takes on a new form as a mobile tour around campus. As part of the Choreography III course, Dance majors enrolled in the class will present their piece of original choreography performed by fellow Dance majors to show what they have been working on this semester. The piece that will be performed at the showcase is the main assignment for the Choreography III class. The course is for Dance majors on the BFA track to hone their skills as choreographers before displaying their work for their senior capstone projects.

Junior Dance major and Choreography III student Anna Menarchek, said that this method of showcasing her choreography was a great learning opportunity. “We are used to being on a stage and being outside of our element gives us room to grow,” said Menarchek. This new challenge exists alongside additional facets of the process for this course compared to Choreography I and II. Students in Choreography III have the opportunity to run an audition, work with a larger cast, create a longer piece, have more rehearsal time, work with lyrics in their music and collaborate with another artist to create an interdisciplinary piece.

While a virtual tour is untraditional, the showcase is more accessible for viewers than ever. Proximity is a major theme for the mobile tour. Madeleine Plourde, a junior Dance major choreographing for the showcase said, “[The mobile tour] is definitely a choreographic challenge because it’s not a typical setting. It affects the way that we choreograph and the way the audience sees it.” Those who wish to attend will meet in front of the DanceSpace in Zurn Hall at 7 p.m. before the show. The audience will then be split up into three groups, and dance students will take each group to three different locations around campus to watch one piece at each location. The cast of the piece will perform, and the choreographer will briefly speak about their piece. Then, the groups rotate, and each piece is performed three times so that every group can see. Pieces are about 6-8 minutes each.

In addition, there will be three different pieces performed every night, so audience members are encouraged to come to the showcase on all three dates. So, what kind of dance can audiences expect? “It’s going to be a very wide array of pieces,” said Plourde. Whether it is through a gestural piece close up to the audience, or a piece in sneakers in the gym, this show is flipping the idea of a proscenium stage on its head. The pieces must be made to fit the space, rather than the other way around.

Assistant Professor of Dance Jennifer McNamara, MFA, CPI, who teaches Choreography III, says she hopes to introduce audience members to new ways of experiencing dance. “I hope this sparks a conversation about dancers being human beings, how the audience interacts with the dancing and how the dancers interact with the audience. It becomes more accessible and less off-putting,” said McNamara. Menarchek also said how much this opportunity means to her. “It’s a big role to take on, and it’s a huge step in our process as choreographers.”

This is the most challenging assignment these Dance majors have ever encountered, but it pays off in dividends. McNamara said how important it is for dance professionals entering the field to have a clear idea of how they want to positively impact the dance world. The work that students do for the Choreography III Showcase helps to nurture that. She said that we can change the long-held narratives about the dance world by “making dance available to more people.” It is important to have diversity in the dance field across the board, and this showcase is certainly a step in the right direction.