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Dancers learn new moves under guest choreographers

Posted by:
March 21, 2016

Once a year, dancers and dance lovers come together for an incredible show in Eastvold Auditorium that features both artistry and grace. This year, Dance Continuum on April 8 and 9 features more than 50 dancers and a variety of styles including modern, jazz, step, swing, contemporary jazz and contemporary modern.

The performance will feature faculty and student choreography along with works by two guest choreographers, Dayna DeFilippis and Gabrielle Cardillo McNeillie. This is the first performance under the direction of Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance Ariella Brown.

Brown started at PLU in September, taking the place of now-retired dance professor Maureen McGill. She runs the dance program, which offers a dance minor and this spring’s performance opportunity.

“I find PLU dancers to be incredibly welcoming and supportive of one another,” Brown says. “They create a family for each other, and somehow, along with their 20 majors, community work, and club attendance, each student manages to dedicate themselves fully to the creative process. It’s admirable to watch them succeed gracefully as dancers at the same time.”

DeFilippis is the Dance Director at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and has collaborated with Brown in the past.

“When this opportunity arose, I immediately knew working with the PLU Dance Ensemble would be an exciting and worthwhile endeavor,” DeFilippis explained.

DeFilippis’ piece, In the Wake of Opportunity, was inspired by the science fiction television series, Battlestar Galactica. The piece explores the ramifications of a wrong decision made by a community and explores the process of consoling both the individual and the group.

Choreographer Talkback

Guest Choreographer Gabrielle McNeillie. Photo by Ed Flores.
Friday, April 8, 2016

Join us on Eastvold Stage after Friday evening’s performance for a choreographer Q&A. Guest Choreographer Gabrielle McNeillie, along with Dance Director Ariella Brown and student choreographers will talk through the creative process.

“As odd as that seems, I was intrigued by the overall, underlying theme of the series and pondered the emotional response I experienced while observing the story line play out,” DeFilippis said.

McNeillie, who teaches dance at Central Washington University, choreographed Riled Up, which is inspired by the frustrations and annoyances of everyday life. Some of the movements come from cracking knuckles and necks, being late and not being aware of the people around you.

“I noticed (well, really my husband noticed) that when I became annoyed or frustrated, I would place my hands on my hips and tap the heel of my foot on the floor,” McNeillie explained. “I then started to think about what types of things made me frustrated and annoyed and used these to create movement.”

McNeillie comes to PLU via a choreographic exchange. At the end of April, Brown will go to Central Washington University to share choreography with their students.

“Ariella and I are very different choreographers in process and style,” McNeillie explained. “This is such a wonderful opportunity for both our programs to gain experience with various ways to approach the creative process.“

Tickets for Dance Continuum are $8 General Admission, $5 Senior Citizens and Alumni, $3 PLU Community, Students and 18 and under. Tickets are available at the Concierge Desk in the Anderson University Center, 253-535-7411 [credit/debit/cash), and can be purchased at the door before the show [cash only].