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The Daily Wildcat


UA School of Dance takes on a New York City dance festival


University of Arizona seniors Jacob Amey, left, and Azelle Chang, right, are heading to New York to dance in the seventh annual SoloDuo Dance Festival. They will perform UA ballet adjunct Chris Compton’s “Proxima Centauri.” (Photo by Mariah Martinez, El Inde Arizona)

University of Arizona School of Dance choreographer, Chris Compton, and student dancers Azelle Chang and Jacob Amey, are heading to New York for the seventh annual SoloDuo Dance Festival at Dixon Place Feb. 9-10, presented by WHITE WAVE Young Soon Kim Dance Company.

This is the first time the UA School of Dance will be a part of the event.

There will be 30 choreographers/companies from all over the world performing at the festival. In past years, performers have come from across the United States, Canada, East Asia and Europe.

The SoloDuo festival gives young dancers and choreographers the opportunity to showcase their abilities and skills in a show put on by an acclaimed choreographer, Young Soon Kim. 

Kim has danced and choreographed all over the world and has produced over 68 original dance pieces. 

UA seniors Amey, who has been dancing for 10 years, and Chang, who has been dancing for 18 years, have been dancing together since high school in their hometown of Portland, Oregon. They also studied at the same dance studio before coming to Tucson.

Chang and Amey will perform “Proxima Centauri,” a piece by Compton, who earned his MFA in choreography and performance from the UA in 2015 and teaches ballet and repertoire. 

The professor said this ballet piece was based on the Proxima Centauri star, a very small star that is the closest one to the sun. However, the star remains just over four light years away from the sun. 

“How would that feel to have your soulmate, the closest relative to you or the only one like you out there be so far away?” Compton asked. “Would you find comfort in it? Is it better to have someone out there even if you will never be together, or is it harder to know that you will never be together?” 

In the piece, Amey will represent the Sun, and Chang the Proxima Centauri star. 

“Do you dream about a time when you could be together and what it might be like? So that is where this piece kind of exists, in that dream world where the two have the chance to coexist,” Compton said. 

The trio had originally started the piece in January 2020 with the intention of performing it at the festival last year. When COVID-19 hit in March 2020 and the campus went virtual, they had to hit pause until picking it back up in August 2021 when the COVID-19 situation had eased.

Chang and Amey said they are nervous, but very excited for this opportunity.

“It is kind of like our first chance to make a name for ourselves,” Amey said. 

Compton, who has danced in contemporary and ballet companies and on Broadway, said he is feeling confident about the New York performance.

“[The dancers] are beautiful. I have the easy part,” he said. “I just get to watch them be beautiful, so I do not have any nerves for this.”

Amey and Chang will attend some auditions while they are in New York and hope to work for a dance company once they graduate in May.

“Jacob and I have not been partners in a piece together since before college, and having the opportunity to dance together our senior year — it really is a full circle,” Chang said. 

Meanwhile, closer to home, the School of Dance will present “Dance Springs Eternal” and “Awakening/Student Spotlight” in April at the Stevie Eller Dance Theatre. Performances of “Dance Springs Eternal” start on April 19 and run through April 30, while performances of “Awakening/Student Spotlight” run from April 20 through April 29. Tickets are available online through Ticketmaster.

For more information visit the School of Dance website.

 *El Inde Arizona is a news service of the University of Arizona School of Journalism.

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