Dancers expand creativity in Perry-Mansfield’s An Evening of Dance performances
Moving in and out of tandem, young dancers are faced with the challenge to go beyond their limitations, beyond the movement, beyond the confines of the stage.
“You shouldn’t be just going through the motions and just dancing,” said Loni Landon, faculty member and renowned New York choreographer, providing feedback to the pre-professional dancers at a rehearsal earlier this week. “You need to breathe and move together, work together.”
In preparation for Friday and Saturday’s Evening of Dance performances, set for 8 p.m. in the Main Studio at Perry-Mansfield School of Theatre and Dance, the pre-professional intensive students have undergone countless hours of rehearsals the past five weeks for their moment on the stage.
Run more like a professional company, this program gives the dancers a chance to see what it’s like to work with and adapt to a variety of choreography styles.
“Here, students and faculty are not resting on older methods and aging techniques,” said Chris Compton, faculty member, co-director of dance and choreographer for the piece “Preludes.” “We’re going forward and seeing what else is out there, finding those things and then bringing that back to Routt County. We want to bring the outside world — not just New York. … We want to do as much as we can to expose Steamboat to what’s happening in the dance world.”
Each year, Compton said, this particular program takes a new shape. Last year, there was the addition of the student-created film showcased with movement. But this year, he said, students went a step further for one of the pieces with the guidance of Loni Landon and collaboratively created choreography for the piece “A Study of Accidental Connections.”
In this piece, Landon said, she challenged students to create different movement ideas based on choreographic tasks and tools she had given them throughout their choreography and improvisation class.
“It’s not just one student choreographing a piece,” Compton said. “They are doing this together and making decisions together. I think people will be surprised by the students’ capacity for creation and their capacity to come up with these phrases.”
According to Perry-Mansfield Executive Director Nancy Engelken, the dance performances range in style and technique, with the nine premiering works by nationally known choreographers and one work by choreographer Erika Pujic titled, “Chapters.”
Other esteemed and nationally acclaimed choreographers featured throughout An Evening of Dance include Antonio Brown, Ilana Goldman, Cynthia DuFault and Gabriel Williams.
“One of the unique aspects of Perry-Mansfield is that there are no mirrors in the studios,” Engelken said. “It was one of the foundational pieces of Perry-Mansfield that Charlotte and Portia wanted, so students would have a chance to learn from each other and learn what it feels like to not just have faculty members teaching them, but to learn from each other and notice how they all interact.”
Through the pre-professional intensive dance program, students age 16 to 18 are exposed to a variety of techniques within the realm of dance, in addition to techniques used in theatre, visual art, equestrian and creative writing.
“All of those creative elements influences how you dance,” Compton said. “Voice affects how you breathe, art affects fluidity, acting influences improvisation. These different elements combine, open a dancer’s capabilities, and you can tell if a dancer has had something like acting, because they can express themselves beyond just a dance phrase.”
In addition to the Evening of Dance performances Friday and Saturday, the dancers will join Perry-Mansfield musical theatre students in a special collaboration with C Street Brass and Strings Music Festival at 7 p.m. Sunday in the Main Studio.
C Street Brass, making a return appearance in Steamboat, was the ensemble in residence at Carnegie Mellon University for three years and is known for providing an innovative concert experience. The group is also providing the brass accompaniment on two of the pieces.
Tickets for all three performances can be purchased online at perry-mansfield.org.
An Evening of Dance featured pieces include:
Title: “Preludes” (premiere)
Choreography: Christopher Compton
“A ballet inspired by the preludes of Chopin”
Title: Bossa (premiere)
Choreography: Ilana Goldman
“A contemporary ballet set against the backdrop of the 1960’s shoreline”
Title: Ragtime (premiere)
Choreography: Cynthia DuFault
“A fiery contemporary ballet”
Title: The Council (premiere)
Choreography: Ilana Goldman
“A thoughtful and engaging contemporary ballet for four women”
Title: Folklore (premiere)
Choreography: Cynthia DuFault
“A regal and austere tribute to the traditions of Mexico”
Title: A Study of Accidental Connections (premiere)
Choreography: The students of the PPI Choreography/Improvisation class in collaboration with their instructor, Loni Landon.
“This work was made in collaboration with the dancers in their choreography/improvisation class.”
Title: Dance on Film (premiere)
Choreography, Direction, and Filming: The students of the PPI “Dance on Film” class in collaboration with their instructor, Erika Pujic.
Music: Carl Landa
Film Editing: Erika Pujic
Title: The Other Side (premiere)
Choreography: Antonio Brown
“An athletic and engaging modern piece”
Title: Last Letters (premiere)
Choreography: Gabriel Williams
“A beautiful and inspired contemporary ballet set to the backdrop of a solo guitar”
Choreography: Erika Pujic
“A dynamic and exciting modern dance finale”
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