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AU Dance Company brings fresh perspectives with spring concert

“Dance Works” will feature diverse styles and innovative artistry

AU Dance Company brings fresh perspectives with spring concert

Celebrating both a rich history and a new direction, the AU Dance Company will host its annual spring dance concert on April 21 and 22. “Dance Works” will explore eight different styles of dance through pieces choreographed by students, faculty members and guest artists.

With 24 student members majoring in everything from environmental science to Russian studies, the company has a diverse array of talents to draw from. Seniors Alexis Maxwell and Sarah Anne New choreographed modern-based dances for the concert, while sophomore Vyette Tiya created an African-influenced dance.

For dance company artistic director Britta Peterson, the students in the program have made her first year at AU an invigorating experience.

“I find working with students at AU, personally and also as someone who’s new to this community, really exciting,” Peterson said. “These students are hungry for both the conceptual and physical work within dance. They are smart, dedicated and willing to tasks risks, and I love introducing them to a new way of working and a new portal into what dance is and can be.”

Peterson’s own work will be featured in the spring concert this weekend. Her piece, entitled “light,” is influenced by jazz and hip-hop and set to original music by Sean Doyle, a professorial lecturer in AU’s Department of Performing Arts. Doyle collaborated with audio technology associate professor Paul Oehlers and student sound designers Henry Myer and Shannon Lynch to create new and innovative sounds for the dances.

Peterson noted that this interdisciplinary approach reflects a new direction for the dance program. She hopes to promote future collaboration within the Department of Performing Arts, the College of Arts and Sciences and AU as a whole.

“We’re really trying to incorporate creative practice as a research method, looking at how we solve problems through dance,” Peterson said. “How do we look at climate change and approach that through the dance lens? How do we look at social justice through dance? And how can the dexterity of creative problem solving influence other areas of study at the university?”

In addition to the student and faculty member works, two guest artists contributed pieces for the spring concert. Zoe Scofield, co-director of Seattle-based dance and visual art company Zoe | Juniper, crafted a work inspired by ballet, while choreographer Michel Kouakou provided a dance with African influences.

Peterson hopes that the concert will show audience members that dance is alive and well at AU.

“There’s some incredible dancing, big partnering, crazy ideas,” Peterson said. “I think it’s going to be things that our audience has never seen before. Which is really fun, to open people’s eyes to the potential that dance has.”

“Dance Works” will take place on April 21 through 22 at 8 p.m. in the Harold and Sylvia Greenberg Theatre, with a discussion following the show on April 21. Tickets are available here.

amammina@theeagleonline.com