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UI Dance Department to finish season with two undergraduate performances

BY JUSTUS FLAIR | MAY 09, 2013 5:00 AM

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Go big or go home.

The Dance Department seems to be using this as its motto this week as it finishes the year with the Undergraduate Concert running today through Saturday at 8 p.m. and the B.F.A. Event at 2 p.m. Saturday, both in North Hall’s Space/Place.

The B.F.A. Event allows seniors the opportunity to present their works before many of them move on to the world of professional dancing.

“Having my work presented is just another way for me to communicate, as dance is a language of its own,” said senior dancer/choreographer Ashley Michalek. “I am very appreciative of the opportunities that I have had to create work, present it, and develop myself as a choreographer who will be ready to enter the dance world and make something of myself. No one knows what the future holds, but experiences like this are definitely a step in the right direction.”

The B.F.A. Event is incredibly rewarding for the senior dancers, and many of them are also involved in the Undergraduate Concert. The concert contains pieces choreographed and performed by undergraduate students in the Dance Department. The performance is an excellent chance for students to explore themes and ideas.

“My choreography project in the Undergraduate Show, ‘discrepancies of self,’ is inspired by all of our constant search for our identity,” said senior Marisha Johnson.  “Especially at this time in our lives, as seniors about to transition into ‘adulthood,’ this search seems to change daily. My dancers collaborated with me and shared their personal struggles on this topic to help create an authentic piece for me and themselves.”

Many of the choreographers seemed to focus on having a genuine experience and creating authentic works. Senior Makinze Meiners said her piece is very personal to her; its title is “Makinze In Between.”

“I have been working with Charlotte Adams on this piece all semester,” she said. “This piece has allowed me to travel down my relationship pathways that exist within my family and how I become trapped or stuck due to my longing for peace or neutrality among my family members. It is about the argument or hostility that exists among one another, but also within myself, and how I allow myself to either be manipulated by others or strong and defendant for myself.”

As this piece focuses on her journey, it seems fitting that “Femme Fatale,” her work for the Undergraduate Concert, covers a large scope.

“This piece is about the ridicule and pressure women face from society and themselves,” Meiners said. “That constant expectation to look a certain way, act like this, or say that … To fit in. This piece resolves through equality. By equalizing all women and stripping one’s self down so that we can view the true individual. Then we realize that we are each the same, and yet individual, and society is wrong.”

Women breaking the mold has long been a controversial subject, as evidenced by the backlash following Henrik Ibsen’s famous play A Doll’s House. This work and, more specifically, its protagonist, Nora, inspired Johnson’s B.F.A. solo.

“My B.F.A. solo has challenged me technically and emotionally,” she said. “It is a character work that is very technical as well. My body and brain must be fully immersed in ‘Nora’ and her tendencies and inner life. My piece, ‘discrepancies of self,’ was challenging in its own way. I tried not to make a plan and just let whatever happens happen and then craft the work. I was inspired by my dancers and our own struggles. It all kept revealing itself to me and unfolding. It was a different process than I am used to but a great one, nonetheless.”

Now that their preparation is complete, the dancers eagerly await the chance to share their works.

“One of the most rewarding feelings is to present a work that others want to watch and want to know more about,” Michalek said. “I have invested so much of myself in this department for the past four years and wanted to find some way to show respect for all that I have gained from these unforgettable and irreplaceable years at Iowa. We all came into this as strangers, and what brought us all together and will continue to keep us together and connected is our passion for what we do; and I wanted to share that with the audience. I can’t quite believe it is all wrapping up as fast as it is, but just as life, the piece takes you on a journey where you can be fully immersed in the artistic beauty onstage as these dancers give their all and leave everything on the stage that has been our home for years.”


What: Dance B.F.A. Event
When: 2 p.m. Saturday
Where: North Hall Space/Place
Admission: : Free for UI students with valid IDs

What: Undergraduate Dance Concert
When: 8 p.m. today through Saturday
Where: Space/Place
Admission: Free for UI students with valid IDs, $6 youth (17 and younger) and senior citizens, $12 general public


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