Sunday, March 6, 2016

(late) fall semester wrap-up — dance showcase... and moving ahead

(sigh)... Somehow I completely fell off the map here since the NDEO conference — time for writing fell by the wayside during performance season and finals, and then inertia set in as I tried to figure out how to write a condensed version of everything that happened since the fall (impossible, I'm afraid). So, I guess I'll try to do a quick wrap-up of the end of the semester, at least, and then try to pick it up again for this one...

Of course, the main culminating event for fall semester was the new Dance Production class' dance showcase concert. This year I tried out a new (for me) system: instead of requiring a choreography final for every student, I let those who wished to create work for the concert present their proposals to the class on "Idea Day" (as Marcia Singman, my mentor teacher when I was student teaching, called it). I was pleased at the wide range of projects proposed, all with serious intent. The day after Idea Day, all students in the class signed up for which pieces they would most like to perform in — and then came the hard part, figuring out casting! Unfortunately, rehearsals started later than I had planned, because figuring out who cold dance in which pieces, and then (this was the hard part) which pieces could rehearse on the same day, turned into a three-week process. Aaarrrgh! (for this semester, I'm having choreographers sign up for rehearsal days before dancers sign up for dances to eliminate all that juggling).

Once rehearsals finally got under way, things went pretty well. Although almost all the choreographers chose to work to relatively current pop music, making for a rather more monotone concert than I might have ideally liked, they all took their work seriously — they remembered to use plenty of variety in the dance elements and structures we have studied, and all stayed away from the "front-facing unison" trap. We did end up with a fairly wide range of tones and styles, within those pop-song boundaries: while one choreographer set a love duet on two pairs, another created a group praise dance, and another arranged traditional Bhangra steps into her own dance. One of the stronger pieces had a Carnival theme and a dark tone, with dancers in pairs and one partner always controlling the other. In all, eleven choreographers showed their own work, along with a couple of class repertory pieces; the Jazz 1 and Jazz 2 classes also showed their fall semester jazz technique dances.

We had a good and enthusiastic audience, and are looking forward to expanding into a two-night concert for spring!

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