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Ten undergrad dance pieces debut

BY SAMANTHA GENTRY | MAY 05, 2011 7:20 AM

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A hip-hop instructor who spent a summer teaching dance in Germany, a dancer recovering from surgery, and a choreographer exploring the use of chairs will use their experiences in contemporary pieces.

These are three of the 10 that will be presented at the Undergraduate Dance Concert at 8 p.m. today in North Hall’s Space/Place. Performances will continue at 8 p.m. through Saturday. Admission is free for University of Iowa students with valid IDs, $6 for seniors and youth, and $12 for the general public.

In this concert, many students will fulfill a requirement for a choreography class, while others have created pieces for independent-study projects.

UI junior Brittany Reuss, participating in the concert for a class, had a difficult time creating her piece.

Over winter break, she had surgery on her hip, which left her unable to dance for the entire semester. She said it was difficult for her to choreograph because she couldn’t demonstrate any of the movements to her dancers.

“It was actually a very positive challenge for me to verbalize the movement,” Reuss said. “It was more of a collaborative effort, and I was really thankful for my dancers, because they were really understanding and helpful.”

Her piece, “Re Progression,” is about her recovery process and how she wasn’t able to dance but watched all the others progress toward their goals.

The trio of dancers in the piece will move to what Reuss describes as a “beautiful and serene” piano composition.

“I created some of the movement at first without the music, but then I focused more on the intent of piece,” she said. “I worked with the music, but I didn’t let it dominate what I was choreographing.”

Unlike her piece, Madison DeWitt used a different style of music for her dance, “Inanimate objects are people too.”

The UI senior used what she describes as a “Western script” called “Cornography”, from a Brad Paisley album.

“It’s really humorous, but it has suggestive phrases, like it insinuates Dolly Parton’s boobs,” she said.

DeWitt’s piece involves a boy and a girl to tell the story of how individuals can go through space and interact with people and not take notice of them.

In the beginning of rehearsals, DeWitt was nervous because her two dancers had completely different styles. But she liked working with them because they were talented in their own ways.

“Seeing them work together, I really appreciate what each of them brings to the table,” she said. “It creates dynamics in the piece that I would have never been able to put in there without them.”

Erin Fitzgerald’s piece, “Far From Home,” will also be a duet but will feature two female dancers. The piece explores the idea of long-distance relationships and how they can be hard.

The contemporary ballet piece is choreographed with two sitting chairs. The chairs represent how people wait for things, and the dancers move through the pain that comes with that.

“The movement in the piece is really beautiful, and it’s a classic repertoire with a twist,” the UI junior said. “It’s kind of risky choreography, but that’s what makes it cool to watch.”

Not only did Fitzgerald and DeWitt choreograph pieces for the concert, but they will also perform.

For Fitzgerald, it’s the best of both worlds.

“It’s really exhilarating, because I get to watch my own work on stage, yet at the same time I get to explore the realm of being a performer myself,” she said. “I’m excited that I get to do both because I get to explore two aspects of my dance career.”


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