Students show off their skills in This Time
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To many, dance is just movement, but for the Colby students who took the stage in Strider Theater this weekend, it was clear that dance is a mode of expression.
According to Annie Kloppenberg, artistic director of Colby Theater and Dance Department’s recent performance titled This Time, “Risk is paramount. The ephemeral nature of live performance opens the possibility of fleeting, physical poetics.”
For months, student dancers have worked tirelessly to prepare themselves for “a diverse movement vocabulary consisting of complex sets of angles, slopes, tones and quality.” Working in groups and seeking guidance from professors, the students offered a range of performances that everyone in the audience could find entertaining. The show, which consisted of primarily modern dance choreographed to music performed and arranged by a diverse group of artists including Corpus Christi, Bertolt Brecht and Blue Oyster Cult, was unique in its integration of improvisation and rehearsed choreography.
“During the process,” Kloppenberg said, “we looked at improvisation as a type of choreographic form; performers aren’t simply doing whatever they want—we work together to develop both content and structure as we move forward.”
This Time was comprised of four different performances, two of which were choreographed by visiting instructor from Ohio State University (OSU), Adriana Durant. A fellow member of Kloppenberg’s improv/modern troupe, Durant staged a reflective political commentary titled “Jane and Wayne,” danced by Maddie Kurtz ’14 and Trip Venturella ’12 on April 13th. The April 14 performance was modified for female dancers Sara Gibbons ’15 and Jamie Suzuki ’14 and retitled “Jane and Jayne.” “The piece was originally part of an OSU student’s senior thesis in 2007,” Durant said. “I came into it with a certain hesitancy, as communication in dance is not necessarily to convey one single meaning, but a somewhat ambiguous yet compelling message that’s open to interpretation.”
Kloppenberg has performed Durant’s piece herself alongside Colby Assistant Professor of Theater and Dance Todd Coulter at the Franco-American and Bates (FAB) Concert in Lewiston, Maine, and helped Durant train and audition dancers via filming.
“Jane and Wayne” is, according to Durant, “a politically motivated duet that pokes fun at the blindly partisan antics of our national leaders. You see aspects of the blind leading the blind and the silence between tracks becomes a huge part of the overall movement.”
All four of the pieces shared this concept. The momentary breaks in musical accompaniment made way for a more natural soundtrack created by the pattering of feet, the heavy sighs of the performers and even the muffled noises of the audience.
The importance of this improvisational approach to background music was emphasized by dancer Francesco Tisch ’12, who said, “The silence is not a time to think. It is just another piece of the music that one has to work with.”
In Kloppenberg’s opinion, the risks associated with improvisation also lead to the greatest reward. “It’s a truly exhilarating experience. There’s a sort of camaraderie between everyone on stage when you finally accomplish what you’ve been working toward.”
“Typically,” she continued, “performers rehearse a dance, but in this case, we used a mix of study and imagination. It requires a detailed and nuanced sense of sonic content, lighting, physical sensation, but also a keen memory and the ability to make new discoveries on your own and share them with everyone in the space.”