The Gustavian Weekly

The Gustavus Dance Company soars to the skies

By Brady Lass - Section Editor | March 17, 2017 | variety

Students and faculty have been preparing all year for this concert presented by the Gustavus Dance Company.

Students and faculty have been preparing all year for this concert presented by the Gustavus Dance Company.

This weekend, the Gustavus Dance Company will be performing their concert titled, “Between Heaven and Earth.” This spring concert features dances that have been practiced throughout the whole year choreographed by professors, students, and guest choreographers.

Featured choreographers include members of the faculty such as Sarah Hauss and Jill Patterson, guest choreographers Kemal Nance and Katy Becker, student choreographers Sami Heggem and Nicole McGuigan, as well as a few others who were facilitated through a special project run by Professor Michele Rusinko.

Associate Professor in Theatre and Dance Melissa Rolnick, explains that the title is an illustration of a place of tension that dancers inhabit.

“We want to soar to the heavens (and sometimes it actually feels as if we do), but remain earthly beings grounded in partnership with gravity.  Therefore we remain in connection to both and are indeed the conduit between heaven and earth,” Rolnick said.

McGuigan is ecstatic to choreograph alongside her professors and demonstrate her passion in front of an audience.

“It’s a huge honor for a student to be able to choreograph for our spring dance concert because the show is meant to showcase the work of our faculty, so to be selected was very exciting! I love choreographing because I get to create a story or concept that the audience can enjoy and learn from. I don’t know how to answer how passionate I am with words. It is all I do and all I ever want to do. Dance is not only exhilarating to do and watch, it is also very therapeutic and visceral experience that is hard to get elsewhere,” McGuigan said.

Junior Mia Massaro has been dancing since she was three years old, and part of why she chose Gustavus was so that she could continue to dance through college. She believes people should come to the concert to experience how modern dance operates.

“I think that it is very important for students to come see the show to be able to experience what modern dance is all about.  Modern dance is very different than normal dance recitals or dance competition, there is more of an emphasis put on the art of the dance’s composition, and the quality of the movements.  Students will enjoy the concert, just as they would enjoy any other theatrical performance; the goal of performance is to captivate the audience, and each dance will do so in a very different way,” Massaro said.

The concert will offer a variety of dances, each with unique messages, themes, and context.

“There are many different types of dance pieces in this concert, some are very entertaining and humorous, others are political, or emotional. This concert will make you think, laugh, and maybe even cry,” McGuigan said. “I choreographed a piece called ‘In This Space’, which tries to explain why we think the way we do. Sometimes we are influenced by others to change the way we are and some people are very resistant to that change. How do the people in our lives affect us to change who we are? Some people are very rigid in their ways of thinking and others are more open-minded, and this dance work I created explores that.”

Rolnick believes this concert will allow anyone attending to embrace their inner dancer.

“Dance is integral to who we are as human beings. Everyone is a dancer someplace within themselves.  They might not know it as their dancer might be dormant, but the dancer lives within each of us.  It is our birthright.  The dance concert might just awaken the sleeping spirit and give it an opportunity to come out of the shadows.  Even though the audience will not be dancing, kinesthetic empathy is a real thing and will awaken the sleeping dancer within. We work because we love it and are compelled to create in the medium that calls to us. Whether it be movement, material or light, we are committed- all of us to creating a thing of beauty,” Rolnick said.

“Between Heaven and Earth” will be presented at 8 p.m.  on March 17-18 and at 2 p.m on March 19 in Anderson Theatre.

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