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UA’s School of Dance showcases student work at ‘Flow: Student Spotlight’

Desarae Tucker
Dancers in Gianna Maxine Diaz’s piece “Until We Make It” at “Flow: Student Spotlight” at the Stevie Eller Dance Theater on Wednesday, Nov. 29. The show aims to showcase the University of Arizona dance student’s talents.

University of Arizona dance students wowed the crowd with their leaps and turns at the opening night for the “Flow: Student Spotlight” showcase on Wednesday, Nov. 29.

“Flow” happens every semester, and the goal is for the students to showcase all the skills they have learned. 

Shows like “Flow” are an opportunity for the students to express themselves and get a taste of the professional concert dance world. UA’s School of Dance Director Duane Cyrus said that they market “Flow: Student Spotlight” just like one of the main stage performances. 

“At the School of Dance, we wholeheartedly believe that ‘Flow: Student Spotlight’ is a testament to the remarkable fusion of learning and dance our students embody. Their journey extends far beyond the role of mere performers; they emerge as proficient choreographers in their own voice. We cherish the voices and diverse backgrounds that our students bring to our dance community, enriching our space with creativity and innovation,” Cyrus said in a press release.

The show opened up with a piece choreographed by UA dance and creative writing student Adam Truesdell. His piece, titled “Strange Little World,” was choreographed to “Why Try to Change Me Now” by Fiona Apple. It showed contemporary and modern elements with the dance’s extensions and flow. 

The outfits had a neutral color palette with different shades of brown, black and white. 

That dance was followed by a more jazzy piece, “You Hurt,” choreographed by Nathaniel Urie, a UA student studying dance and marketing

Ava Cassidy (blue dress), Rashaad Rice (purple outfit) and Madeline Brown (pink pant suit) in “You Hurt” at “Flow: Student Spotlight” at the Stevie Eller Dance Theatre on Wednesday, Nov. 29. The dance was choreographed by Nathaniel Urie. (Desarae Tucker)

It showcased three dancers, UA’s Madeline Brown, Ava Cassidy and Rashaad Rice. Brown was wearing a bright pink pant suit, Cassidy was wearing a blue dress with matching socks and Rice was wearing lavender pants and a dark purple cropped shirt. 

The background lights matched the outfits and changed from bright pink to purple. 

It started with Brown and Cassidy standing, facing downstage right in a spread-out diagonal line. Brown then ran in and did a center leap over Cassidy into the middle. 

The dance had some comedic elements throughout, but some more pieces with modern and contemporary elements followed. 

Right before the 15-minute intermission, graduate student Gianna Maxine Diaz’s piece was showcased. “Until We Make It” was choreographed to “Hip Hip Chin Chin” by Club des Belugas, featuring a collaboration with UA School of Dance AccompanistZachary White.

Diaz has been researching modern ways of thinking when it comes to dance, like mixing styles. A lot of dance styles are being fused together, such as jazz and hip-hop, or modern and contemporary.

She took this into consideration when working on her piece. It was a jazz dance infused with hip-hop with some technical aspects of ballet and modern. The hip-hop grooves were apparent in the piece. She also included some house-style movements.

“I think dance is just a never-ending practice,” Diaz said. “I think that’s what’s the beauty behind it.” 

Diaz said that her seven dancers all come from different dance backgrounds, and she wanted to use that to her advantage during the collaborative process. 

“We would speak about what rehearsal means to you. ‘What does it mean to be a woman to you?’ We certainly had to get into those topics to create the world that I was trying to portray into their movement, before we started any of the dancing,” Diaz said.  

The dancers wore purple and orange outfits; vibrant and bright colors to match the choreography. The lighting was also those colors. 

One of her dancers was first-year undergraduate, Lydia Holmes. “Flow” was the first time that Holmes was able to dance at Stevie Eller Dance Theatre

“It’s super exciting. This will be my first time performing at Stevie Eller, so I’m a little nervous, but overall excited to just get on the stage,” Holmes said. 

She said she enjoys the piece, and she is excited for people to see what they have been working on. 

“I’m excited to perform with my peers and my class, and to have my mom come see a show,” Holmes said.

Holmes was not at opening night due to health issues. 

In total there were 12 pieces showcased, created by UA dance students, all ranging in styles from contemporary to pointe.

“Flow: Student Spotlight” runs from Nov. 29 through Dec. 3 at varying times. The last showing will be Sunday, Dec. 3, at 1:30 p.m. It’s located at the Stevie Eller Dance Theatre at 1737 E. University Blvd.

Tickets cost $15 for students, $25 for military, employees or seniors and $28 for adults.

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