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Orchesis’ winter dance production, Vitality, will bring variety to Alex and Faye Spanos Theatre starting this weekend, exploring contemporary, jazz, ballet, modern and hip-hop dance styles.
A mix of student, faculty and guest choreographers have been preparing for the concert since fall quarter.
One of those student choreographers is liberal studies senior Ella Richards, who enjoys the freshness the show is striving for.
“I think that Vitality has more variety in terms of mood,” Richards said. “The pieces change a lot. I would say that it is a little bit less trendy than others. Sometimes in a dance show, everyone does the same kick and it shows up in every dance. This one has less trends and is more unique.”
Each piece is more focused on its own concept or theme because it doesn’t have to conform or match the dances that come before or after it. Each dance is original work the student dancers help form and create, Orchesis Dance Company Director Diana Stanton said.
“The whole concert is pretty uplifting,” Stanton said. “I think people will feel like they have gone on a journey. I think they will be really inspired and will be able to enjoy a pure, beautiful expression that comes from the student body themselves.”
Part of that expression is picking the title of the concert. Student dancers help name the show to describe what mood they hope to achieve.
“What has been happening the last several years is that the students all vote and propose names for the show,” Stanton said. “All the words that have been used really relate to an aspect of movement or maybe an aspect of how somebody feels psychologically when dancing.”
This title, Vitality, means the capacity to grow or develop, which is what the show has done since this past September.
“We do a showing progressively every couple weeks,” Richards said. “It has been really cool to see a dance one week and the next time it will (be) tweaked. You can understand more of the story.”
Rehearsals at Spanos Theater started this past week, where dancers could get a whole new perspective on how the final dances would look.
“We are very excited to be in the theater this week,” Stanton said. “That is always fun because you see the dances go from studio to the stage. They get a whole new life.”
Guest choreographers ranged from finale choreographer Nancy Cranbourne, who runs a dance studio in Boulder, to renowned dance professional Douglas Nielson and hip-hop mentor Daniel Cruz from Seattle.
Liberal studies junior Jenna VanderDoes especially liked working with Cranbourne because of the fresh perspective she brought to the dance.
“(Cranbourne) was a burst of energy and was really funny,” VanderDoes said. “She made us dance in a way that we normally wouldn’t.”
Guest choreographers only come for one weekend, meaning dancers and faculty had to focus during that visit so they could continue to rehearse the dance with the integrity the original choreographer intended.
“We learn the dance all at once, so it is a lot to take in,” VanderDoes said. “Then it is up to us to continue to practice and choreograph and keep the dance at the level that they left it, and even improve it. That’s what we have our directors and assistant directors for, to help us do that.”
Student choreographers added their own voice to the show.
“My piece that I choreographed only has four people, which is fun because it is more intimate and we have been able to delve deeper into the concept of the piece,” Richards said.
Conceptual understanding of the dance is important to the dancers and choreographers.
“One of the things we talk about is how is the audience going to understand this and receive it,” Richards said. “But the goal is not just to satisfy the audiences. I think a lot of people who go see dance shows, that is what they think that our goal is. It is more about the artistry.”
Vitality will be showing this weekend, Jan. 31 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 1 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Next weekend, it will be held Feb. 6, 7 and 8 at 8 p.m. General admission is $20 and student tickets are $12.
“There is absolutely nothing like live performance, and in our culture, we just don’t have a real understanding of valuing that,” Stanton said. “You can’t look at a video and get the same quality because these people are giving so much of themselves and they have such a tremendous voice.”