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Creative choreography shines in Faculty/Graduate Dance Concert

BY SAMANTHA GENTRY | FEBRUARY 17, 2011 7:20 AM

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When it comes to performance art, audiences only see the finished product. For the University of Iowa Dance Department, many elements contribute to an entertaining concert: lighting, costumes, music. But the process that creates the dances is the heart.

Whether it’s a graduate student creating a piece for dance majors or a professor collaborating with her or his dancers, each went through a process to create a dance for today’s Faculty/Graduate Dance Concert.

UI dance students will perform seven pieces at 8 p.m. today in North Hall’s Space/Place, with more performances at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Admission is $6 for UI students and youth, $12 for the general public.

Gabriel Anderson, a first-year graduate student in dance, will perform his own dance for the concert — the first time he has created a piece for a UI dance performance.

“It’s nerve-racking, in a sense of whenever you put your artistic work out there for the public to see; it’s an apprehensive moment,” he said. “People may hate it, people may like it, but that’s what makes the process fun and exciting.”

Anderson’s piece, “Southbound Acceptance,” is his response to the changing body as he is getting older; he has danced professionally for quite some time. He takes a comical yet theatrical approach to display how getting older is inevitable and how one needs to accept it.

“I’m by no means old, but as I got to my mid-20s, things started shifting, and I had to train differently and kind of come to terms with that, because it’s only normal,” he said. “I feel like this piece is something I could go back to when I’m 35, 45, or 55, because it is something that will always be relevant to me personally.”

“Southbound Acceptance,” which Anderson choreographed two weeks ago, will be performed without music. However, there will be text, speaking, and singing by Anderson.

The performance is the first time he has put all the elements together, but it’s a new form of exploration.

“If I lose my breath while dancing, the audience can wait for me to catch it, because, unfortunately, it’s a solo,” he said sarcastically.

While the music may not be an important aspect for Anderson’s piece, it does play a big part in Charlotte Adams’ “AmongOtherThings,I’veTakenUpSmoking.”

She has collaborated with UI graduate student in composition Jason Gregory for the musical portion of her piece; he will play music he has composed on his computer.

“[Gregory’s] music has a sort of living, breathing quality that I’m attracted to,” Adams said. “He has created a very interesting and eerie piece to accompany my bad habits.”

The idea of bad habits started with the title, and then the image grew in Adams’ head that “sometimes it seems that bad habits kind of stalk us, as well as comfort us and show up at hard and bad times.”

“AmongOtherThings,I’veTakenUpSmoking” is a contemporary piece in which Adams involved her dancers in creation of the work.

“It’s a real collaborative process, and these students are really talented and creative,” she said. “We’ve had an interesting time putting it all together.”

For UI graduate student Melinda Myers, her piece, “Sheer Brilliance,” was also a collaborative process with her trio of dancers.

She played with the idea of a Mad Libs, the oddity of pop culture, and how dancers struggle because they are continually compared with dance shows on TV.

“In a way, it complicates what we do because there is an expectation to do what people see on TV, which isn’t usually concert dance,” she said. “But we tried to translate our dance in a way for people to accept it.”


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