The culmination of dance, choreography, design, lighting and sound will all come together this weekend as the Department of Theatre and Dance presents the Choreographer’s Gallery: New Horizons. The dance concert will be held Nov. 19, 20 and 21 at 8:00 p.m. and Nov. 22 at 2:00 p.m. in the Anderson Theatre.
This concert highlights the work of 11 student choreographers and is directed by Melissa Rolnick, a visiting assistant professor of theatre and dance. Tickets are available and are free for Gustavus students and staff; otherwise they are $7 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens.
The dance concert received much support from Terena Wilkins, an adjunct instructor of theatre and dance, who helped with lighting and sound along with Junior Sociology & Anthropology Major Kelly Franzen. Andrea Gross, an Adjunct Instructor of Theatre and Dance, helped with costume design along with Junior Theatre Major Robert Croghan.
“In early September, the lighting designers and the costume designers had a conversation with each choreographer. We all sat down and talked through what the choreographer’s vision is and tried to come up with some basic designs so we could pull together some research ideas for the choreographer,” Croghan said. The results of the designers’ and choreographers’ efforts will be seen in their performances this weekend.
Marissa Augustin and Katelyn Pederson have choreographed their piece together, and it is an energetic and animated modern dance titled “Explosions in a Sphere.”
“The piece was initially inspired by the music of Ratatat and dance as a form of expression. Dance doesn’t always have to be about difficult choreography or mastery of technique. Anybody can dance. Get out there, have fun and just dance,” Augustin said.
The costumes for the show were designed by Croghan. “Since this Dance Gallery is set in the fall, we are not able to build and construct any of the costumes. Since the Costume Shop has had more to do this fall, and also because the Dance Gallery is made up of all student-choreographed pieces, it just wasn’t in our plan to build any pieces from scratch. Instead, Andrea Gross and I have done some pulling from our own costume storage and altering them. We have purchased some items from the Internet if they were not too expensive, and we have also done some shopping in the surrounding area and cities and I mostly hit up thrift stores,” Crohgan said.
Croghan described his costume design for Augustin and Pedersen as superhero meets videogamer. “This show has been our first opportunity to choreograph for a main stage production. It has been a great learning experience. Because neither of us are dance majors, only dance minors, we are not required to take costume and lighting design classes. This show gave us the chance to work with a production team, including costume and lighting designers, which further complemented our experience,” Augustin said.
Jordan Klitzke and Nina Serratore co-choreographed the piece titled “Amalgamation” and received assistance from Rolnick.
“Nina and I have very different dance backgrounds, body types and techniques. We thought it would be interesting to combine our styles and create a piece about a relationship that was very honest and didn’t fall into feeling too over-dramatic or full of angst,” Klitzke said.
The costume designed by Croghan and lighting designed by Franzen for this piece helps to show the idea of conflicting dance styles, focusing on what happens when they come in contact with each other. The costumes were made to show the dancers’ individual beauty. Contrasting colors of the costumes show the conflict between the dancers. Serratore also choreographed her own piece titled “Colored Impressions.”
“I was inspired by color displayed in nature and the dramatic color spread that you see when you walk through the woods. I started asking myself how I feel when I see bright colors versus dramatic cool colors. I then wondered what it would be like to create dance based on painting and if you could create both movement and art simultaneously to bring both forms to life,” Serratore said.
Haley Carpenter choreographed the piece “Here for Now,” which was inspired by her sister and her four best friends from home. Rolnick has been encouraging Carpenter to explore her abilities more and to push herself as a choreographer.
“I’ve been working with costume designer Andrea Gross to create the costumes. They consist of different two-piece outfits including boho shirts, longer shirt/dresses and leggings that are all shades of blue. I’ve also been working with lighting designer Terena Wilkens in which we have chosen blues, ambers and a leaf pattern overlay to light the stage,” Carpenter said.
“Break Free” is a piece choreographed by Sarah Jabar. “I wanted to provide a quirky perspective of our culture and how we tend to work extremely hard toward some ideal we think we’re supposed to reach, when simply enjoying life and finding the things we love to do and are good at, will bring joy to ourselves and those around us,” Jabar said.
The costumes for this piece play off of the 1950s housewife look and is enhanced by the lighting techniques which gives the piece a wacky feel.
“These Walls: Who we are and who we may yet choose to be” is choreographed by Andrea Nelson. Her piece was inspired from her experience abroad in Northern Ireland and tried to show the struggle of identity the youth had when they left their community.
“I really tried to craft a piece who would illustrate their struggles in trying to fit into an identity, while also trying to assert themselves as individuals and human beings in the world. My intention is to open the minds of audience members to their unique story,” Nelson said.
There are many talented choreographers, dancers and designers that have dedicated their time to creating this dance concert. There are many other dance pieces that have not been described, and to learn about the work all of the choreographers, dancers and designers have put in to the show, there is only one way to find out: sit back, relax and enjoy the dance concert.