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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    School of Dance rings in spring with new show

    Sally Lugo

    Dance students rehearse a number in the Boundless dance show in the Stevie Eller Dance Theatre on Monday night. The School of Dance’s Spring Collection features multiple dance styles.

    Art can provide much needed clarity about life, allowing for more honest introspection and a fresh perspective of the future. For some perspective and reflection entering the last weeks of the semester, look no further than the School of Dance’s “Spring Collection,” a performance with all-new choreography in the styles of jazz, ballet and modern dance, running Friday to May 3.

    Dance professor Douglas Nielsen creates pieces that get audience members thinking. According to the School of Dance website, Nielsen’s piece is inspired by John Baldessari photograph because the picture was intentionally shot at an unconventional angle, the dance blurs the line between what is considered right and wrong in the arts. His 30-minute piece is called “The Wrong Dance.”

    “It’s a compilation of all of his work in [the] past 10 years,” said Alan Gonzalez, a dance freshman. “He [recreated] some of those dances, and he put them together. It’s a really fun piece. It’s long, but it’s really fun to dance to.”

    Gonzalez said he tries to connect with the choreographer when learning and performing one of their pieces. In Nielsen’s case, Gonzalez practices the art of losing himself to portray the choreographer’s imagination accurately.

    “I think I have to separate what I really feel from it, so I don’t change the perspective that [Nielsen] wants to transmit to the audience,” Gonzalez said. “I try to not put a lot of myself in it -— regarding my feelings — but instead, what he wants.”

    Nielsen seems to have specific ideas about how he wants his dance to look.

    “He wants [us] to be pedestrian, like normal people on stage,” Gonzalez said. “He wants natural, modern movement, like, basic, anatomical movement.”

    Before audience members can gain a new outlook from a dance, the dancers themselves must push past their own mental and emotional barriers to create a truly inspiring piece. Once the dancers open up their minds and hearts on stage, they can invite audience members to share in their creative journeys.

    “At first, everyone was kind of hesitant,” said Rachel Shiffman, a dance freshman also performing in Nielsen’s piece. “We really didn’t know what was going on. … Somehow, Doug always is able to take people that you would never expect to be in a dance together with costumes and crazy ideas, and it always comes together, and it always comes out as this experience.”

    Shiffman explained part of the creative process Nielsen implements in rehearsals.

    “It’s just an experience for not only the audience but [for the] performer,” Shiffman said. “You have a different experience every time you perform it. Sometimes he gives us creative freedom to do certain things with guidelines. It’s like we’re our own scientists. It’s fun.”

    Along with modern, ballet will be featured in the “Spring Collection” as well. Emma Henning, a dance freshman, will be performing in Elizabeth George’s ballet ensemble.

    “It’s an embodiment of the UA’s ballet department,” Henning said. “It’s definitely very classical and incorporates a lot of partnering. The costumes are beautiful.”

    “Spring Collection” will come to a close with dance professor Michael William’s upbeat and lively finale — a piece called “Do You Wanna REMIX?” The finale has three casts made up of 21 dancers.

    “I wanted to make a finale with lots and lots of people, and so, that was my first objective,” Williams said. “Then, I looked for music that I thought would be fun and [have] the possibility of lots of velocity and lots of people. … I wanted to include, along with some fun and funky jazz, to include tap. … It’s [a] big production number: very visual, very spectacle. The score that I finally chose is Herbie Hancock’s ‘Rockit,’ and this song [is] super contagious.”

    “Spring Collection” promises to bring some much needed joy and inspiration to the last few weeks of the school year.


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