Dance minors showcase talent in final show

Multiple genres will be performed from advanced classes

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Dance minors showcase talent in final show

Dance seminar rehearses Afro-tap fusion piece to be performed in collaboration with Dance History class.

Dance seminar rehearses Afro-tap fusion piece to be performed in collaboration with Dance History class.

Photo by Photo by Yue Yin

Dance seminar rehearses Afro-tap fusion piece to be performed in collaboration with Dance History class.

Photo by Photo by Yue Yin

Photo by Photo by Yue Yin

Dance seminar rehearses Afro-tap fusion piece to be performed in collaboration with Dance History class.

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Dancers across campus are busy preparing for a final, but it has no correlation to a typical Scantron test. They are choreographing and rehearsing a full-length show.

Marquette’s dance program will perform its end of the semester showcase, “Celebrate Dance,” Sunday, May 8, at 2 p.m. in Weasler Auditorium. Admission is free.

The show will feature multiple pieces from each class offered this semester, including Ballet 2, Modern 2, Dance History and an honors program seminar, Dance History and Cultural Expression. A senior project by Catherine Jensen, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences and dance minor, will also be shown.

Performing arts instructors in the College of Communication Cathleen Ott Thompson and Roxanne Kess taught the dance classes this semester. Thompson is this year’s showcase director. Three dance faculty members alternate this role. In the past it was a collaborative effort, but the new format gives the faculty opportunities to individualize the show.

“This year I offered to direct it, and Roxy mentioned doing it in rotation, which is a perfect idea for all of us to divvy up the work over the years, but also to individualize it because all of us will highlight different things and take a different take on that year’s work,” Thompson said. “This year I brought the word ‘showing’ into it rather than ‘recital.’  It’s definitely college-level young adults, and I feel like our work at the university level is really different.”

The performance is vital to the dance program, but only put on during spring semesters. Students gain valuable performance experience through the show.

Students did some of their own choreography work in some classes such as Ballet 2 and Dance History. Emily Topp, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences and a dance minor, said she looks forward to performing her solo, which is included in the Dance History lineup.

“I’m definitely excited to perform my Martha Graham-inspired solo,” Topp said. “The title of the song is, ‘New Day.’ (Graham) faced a lot of challenges but came back so much stronger, and I used the ‘New Day’ thinking that there’s always a challenge, but you can always come back strong and face any obstacles that are in your way.”

Students in Dance History were tasked choreographed and performed a solo inspired by a dance icon of their choice. They wrote papers on their respective icons earlier this semester.

“I picked Fred Astaire because I wanted something different,” said Rebecca Stekiel, a senior in the College of Health Sciences and dance minor. “I wanted to challenge myself and broaden the spectrum. I have never choreographed a tap solo before so I thought it’d be fun.”

Stekiel also wanted to do a tap solo since she took Tap 1 last semester, but Tap 2 was not offered this semester. Not enough students were enrolled in the class so it was cancelled. The dance program is small and not well known across campus. It is considered a subcategory of the theatre program.

“I do wish we could have an actual dance department that is functioning like some of the other universities,” Kess said. “It would be great to see dance evolve. I would like someone to get really excited about that.”

Kess came to Marquette 13 years ago and saw the caliber of students taking dance classes. She wrote a proposal to the university to create a dance minor, but it took quite a few years before it was implemented.

“With the kids who are coming here and some of the experience they have, (I thought) it would really be cool for them to have a dance minor,” Kess said. “That person might want to start a dance studio, and I thought they should have that option.”

Students agree that the department needs increased attention.

“Because it’s a really small program, there are less things we are able to do,” Topp said. “There’s been conversations about why dance doesn’t count as a performing arts credit. It’s an obstacle to dance minors.”

While the program could use some development, it has come a long way, and students minoring in dance enjoy incorporating dance classes into their days.

“I chose to minor in dance because I started dancing when I was very very young, and I wanted to continue it in some way, shape or form,” Stekiel said. “It’s a good way to stay active. It’s a good way to get your creative mind thinking.”

The Ballet 2 class will perform a piece titled “Purple Rain” in honor of Prince, a classical ballet piece set to his music. The class will also perform the original piece.

“After Prince died, I just had the brainstorm of what if we performed ‘Lilac Fairy’ to ‘Purple Rain,'” Thompson said.

In addition to “Purple Rain,” Thompson has incorporated other art forms into her dances, such as Carrie Schneider’s “Reading Women” exhibit.

“Basically, (Thompson) had ideas about how she was going to make the exhibit come to life,” said Madeline LaVine, a junior in the College of Business Administration. “We incorporated dance moves to what we thought turning pages would look like.”

 

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