WILLA HINE / THE EAGLE
Pingpong balls covered the floor as dancers rolled, leapt and glided across the stage. Music surged and then suddenly stopped. The annual spring dance concert had begun.
The AU Department of Performing Arts held its spring dance concert in Greenberg Theatre on April 13 and 14.
The theme for this year’s concert was “Upside Down/Inside Out.” Melanie George, the concert’s artistic director and the director of AU’s dance program, said this year’s theme was “a metaphor for the process becoming transparent.”
In order to expose this process to the AU community, the dance department held open rehearsals in February and March.
The lobby of the Greenberg Theatre also featured concept boards and costume renderings for audience members to study before entering the theater for the performance.
George said the lobby display was about stimulating the senses. She wanted the performance to be a journey.
“I want audience members to talk about the work and think about the work as opposed to just watch it,” George said.
Lauren Christie, a senior in the School of Communication, created a video blog featuring footage of rehearsals and interviews with choreographers and student dancers. The video blog was a way to document the process and create excitement for the show. Christie performed in three dances herself.
The two-hour performance featured eight dances by two guest choreographers, two student choreographers and four staff choreographers. It featured a variety of dance styles, including ballet, jazz and modern.
“This year, to take it to the next level, I wanted every student involved in the repertory class to have the opportunity to work with a guest,” George said.
Guest choreographers Joan Meggitt and Leanne Schmidt taught the dancers over a four- to five-day period.
Schmidt’s piece, “Sugar,” stood out among the long stretch of performances. It is strange and hardly characteristic of a traditional dance performance, yet fascinating. The dancers lament their desire for sugar and the effects that it has on their bodies. They shake their thighs, arms and backsides in anger, adding humor to the performance.
The piece challenges perceptions of dance. It required the dancers to speak and act, new challenges for the performers, George said.
Next week, the dancers will go to New York City to perform “Sugar” in Schmidt’s dance concert.
Gracie Corapi, a freshman in the School of Communication who is a dancer in “Sugar,” said working with guest choreographers is a valuable experience.
“You’re making professional connections and learning from talented people,” Corapi said.
The concert was lengthy, but the eight pieces performed were staunchly different, meriting the length.
George said this year’s concert was “amazing as usual” but there’s one aspect that was different this year.
“For me, personally, it’s very bittersweet because the seniors that are graduating this year are the students who were freshmen the year that I started teaching here,” she said.