The Spring Student Dance Concert soars as students produce and choreograph its routines

Each evening, the dance concert will put on a diverse set of dance works, ranging from “concept of energy flow to the exploration of group relationship.” (Photo courtesy of Brooke Thomas)

From May 7-9 at 8 p.m., the University of Oregon Department of Dance will be presenting their Spring Student Dance Concert 2015. Held in the Dougherty Dance Theater, it will present the works of nine emerging artists.

Unlike other concerts held by the Department of Dance, this one is “produced and performed entirely by students, an important process to endure as they transition from life in academia to life as artists at large,” states the event’s Facebook page.

Each evening, the dance concert will put on a diverse set of dance works, ranging from “concept of energy flow to the exploration of group relationship.”

Brooke Thomas, a senior and one of the student producers and choreographers, is not dancing in the show, as well as the other eight female seniors who additionally choreographed their own routines. “We each individually collaborated with the lighting, makeup, costume designers as well as came up with our own crew and schedule as producers,” said Thomas.

The nine seniors are grateful for the guidance from their main artistic director, Brad Garner, who advised the choreographers and gave insightful feedback during rehearsal periods. “He really knows what to look for and guide us to make the best show possible,” Thomas said.

Though this show’s style is contemporary, it may be a bit complex to those who take it at face value. Uniquely, each of the nine dance routines has its own underlying message or theme that forces audience members to look past what the naked eye can see.

Thomas’ piece “The Machine in the Corner” was inspired by the 1972 fireball pinball machine. “It’s really mechanical. I came up with the sharp and strategic movement and it has the focus of a dancer being a pinball in the performance.”

Each as special as Thomas’, the ensembles range from two to 12 dancers, defining expressionism through the fluidity of movement, each so different, as if they were their own little act within the performance. Incorporating Mozart or even a Taco Bell ad, each performance came with a fresh vibe, keeping the audience’s eyes and ears on the motions of the bodies on the stage.

“My piece stems from the concept of being present in one place, but concentrated on an entirely separate place. I played with the idea of how some external ambition or interest could affect both the state of being, as well as the relationship of the dancers,” stated Mariah Melson, another producer in the show.

Just as complex as their meanings, a parallel level of work was put into bringing the entire process together. The producers have been meeting since fall term and after auditions were held in January, it has been non-stop movement (pun intended) for these ensemble dancers. Thomas said, “I like to work as in me placing movement on my dancers, which is non-collaborative work. The most challenging part of this process was finding a relationship between dance and music, it would be so much easier to have a live musician,” as each dance was performed to music on a track.

After nearly an entire school year of hard work, still “nothing can be complete until the final show, it all comes together in the end no matter what.” Just as their mentor, Brad Garner continuously tells his students, “don’t keep things precious, that hinders it from becoming more evolved.”

Still, like Thomas, the other eight seniors are excited to take this experience further and invest in their voices as choreographers. “The best thing you can do as a choreographer is to make work and continue with it. We all really want to create this experience for the audience as well for community and university and its students.”

You still have two chances to see the Spring Student Dance Concert. May 8-9, at 8 p.m., in Doughtery Dance Theater. Tickets are available at the EMU Ticket Office, $5 for students and seniors, and $10 for general admission | | 541.346.4363

Special pre-show being shown Fri. and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.



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