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Dance concert covers new creative ground

Posted by:
March 28, 2017

Dance 2017: Innovation features PLU dancers working with guest and student choreographers exploring inventive themes through dance. The performances are on Friday, April 7 and Saturday, April 8 at 7:30 p.m. in Eastvold Auditorium of Karen Hille Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

This year’s concert is the first under PLU Dance Director Rachel Winchester. Winchester explains that this year’s theme of innovation is significant because it involves not being complacent and accepting the status quo in the world of dance.

Innovation is the belief that it has not ‘all been done before’- there is new ground to cover in the art of communicating through dance, pushing through the comfort zone to try something new,” Winchester says.

Winchester’s piece Home Movies engages modes of innovative storytelling, where imagination, improvisation and memory play an active role in the creative processes of the dancers and the choreographer. This piece was originally set at the University of Idaho.

“I was excited to work with students with theatre background in this PLU cast, as the piece involves characterization, dialogue, poetry and singing,” Winchester explains. “There is a projection at the end of the piece that ties into the theme of memory and the title, Home Movies. The students participated in the process of creating moments on film and practicing basic video editing- all part of the learning experience, which involves elements of dance dramaturgy, technology and improvisation.”

Innovation is evident throughout the entire concert. Students were encouraged to be inventive with their choreography. Kelsey Monahan’s ’17 piece called New Fashioned Love represents the diverse forms of love and the ability to be oneself. YOUNG & TW1$TED by Joshua Moran explores the unpredictable side of hip hop. Jem Wynn explains that Nova>, which was inspired by the movements in outer space, explores human emotions and the progression of relationships.

This year’s guest choreography exposes the relationship between the hunter, the prey and the wolf. Guest choreographer Jessica Zoller explains that the inspiration for her piece Keep them at Bay occurred while listening to an episode of This American Life. The episode discussed infamous American Custer Wolves that terrorized cattle and eluded hunters in the early 1900s. Intrigued by the Custer Wolf, Zoller decided to explore themes of vulnerability, feral instincts, and athleticism in a dance choreography.

Zoller set the nine minute piece in one week. Dancers spent a total of 15 rehearsal hours together.

“Most of the dances I have choreographed in the past were composed over a one to three month period. I would often have time to think about the work, make changes, and let the dancers play a bigger role in movement generation. Knowing I only had a week to work with the six dancers at PLU I arrived with much of the dance planned out including the music, movement, and sequence of events. In the end, the process was fast paced, but very satisfying. The dancers did a wonderful job picking up the movement and making it their own right away.”

In this piece the audience can expect a variety of dynamics and tempos in the movement, some being very slow and others full and fluid. The audience can also expect a musical score that includes simplistic nature sounds, text from This American Life, as well as melodic music from Garth Stevenson.

Zoller received her BFA in Dance Performance at Western Washington University and her MFA in dance from the University of Oregon. Zoller has experience dancing with Pam Kuntz, Bellingham Repertory Dance Company, and Portland Opera. She is currently a Polaris Dance Theatre company member, instructor, and guest choreographer.

Tickets to Dance 2017: Innovation are on sale now. General admission is $8, military, alumni cost $5, and PLU community and those 18 and younger cost $3.