UI undergrad dancers show choreography

BY JULIA JESSEN | MAY 03, 2012 6:30 AM

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Dance is sparked by many moments among dancers at the University of Iowa.

"I've known I wanted to dance since I was 5 years old, when I saw Riverdance on TV," said junior dance major Sarah Carusona. "I've never done Irish dancing, but that's what inspired me to dance."

Carusona and a group of her peers will be featured at 8 p.m., today, Friday, and Saturday in the Undergraduate Dance Concert in North Hall's Space/Place. Admission is $12 for the general public, $6 for senior citizens and youth, free for UI students.

The concert features 13 works that have been choreographed by undergraduate students selected by a committee.

"We look for choreographic excellence," said UI dance Professor Alan Sener, one of the judges. "And [what makes choreographic excellence] is a question that requires a lifetime of investigation, and it's a never-ending question."

The dance Carusona choreographed combines the words of the poem "Pass On," by Michael Lee, with music, and it incorporates five dancers in addition to Carusona.

She said dance is one outlet for her various artistic interests.

"If I'm not creating art either by writing, or drawing, or painting, or taking photographs, or doing videography, I don't feel like myself — it's just who I am," she said. "And I'm a very physical person and I like to move, so dance kind of incorporates the artistic side of me and the physical side of me."

Another dancer and choreographer featured in the show is senior dance and international-studies major Jennifer Pray, who will perform in a solo performance based on doubt, "Should the Shadows Come."

It is important for dancers to be able to choreograph because of the multifaceted nature of the dance world, she said.

"Very often as a professional, you'll be asked to do any number of things, from teaching to choreographing to dancing to cleaning the studio floors to marketing," she said. "It's a very dynamic career path, and as a performer, knowing how to approach choreography is really beneficial."

Sener agreed — choreographing can help dancers grow in movement.

"Even if you don't consider yourself a choreographer, it's good to practice the art of dance-making to see it from the creator's point of view," he said. "It provides insight into your own performing."

The Undergraduate Dance Concert is an opportunity to see the direction the future of choreography could take.

"I think what's cool about the Undergraduate Concert is that these are young voices that are having a chance to start to develop," Pray said. "It's exciting to see where all of these artists are starting and know where there's a potential for growth."

She said she hopes that audience members will feel something while watching her choreography.

"Dance is a communication, and the better-versed you are in all elements, the better you'll be able to relate to your audience and communicate something really powerful," she said.

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