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ISSUE 119 VOL 9 PUBLISHED 11/18/2005

'Fresh' choreography emerges

By Lisa Gulya
Arts Editor

Friday, November 18, 2005

Saturday afternoon was full of invigorating surprises, from the sunlit rainstorm to the dance department’s “Fresh Space” performance at 2 p.m. in Dittmann Center.

Fresh Space showcases in-progress works choreographed by alumni, faculty and students. Most pieces are snippets of larger works, only a few minutes long. The first formal performance of the year will be the Senior Dance Concert, Dec. 8-9 in Kelsey Theater.

The informal atmosphere allowed audience members to come and go between pieces, as dancers joined the audience while not performing. Students used the performance as an afternoon study break, and families with small children stayed as long as attention spans lasted.

Minimalist cubist choreography by Jake Fitzpatrick ’07 began the performance. Fitzpatrick, a music major, used the ideas of gradual, nearly imperceptible change and disconnected layering to build his piece.

Julia Langenberg ’06 and Hannah Swanson ’08 performed “Circles,” a brief piece based on class work they had done by building bodily movements that started with choreography of the hands.

Other pieces were less formal and theoretical. First-year students Ananya Mukhopadhyay and Kelly Laures choreographed and performed a piece to a party remix of a song from a Bollywood film. Dressed in bright pink and bright blue with matching shawls, the dancers pulsed to the insistent beat while integrating the hand movements characteristic of Indian dance.

The next piece skipped across hemispheres with an Argentine tango choreographed by Rachel Kronsberg ’02 and Nate Martin ’01, now dance instructors at the dance studio Arthur Murray Minneapolis. Six couples, women in swirling red dresses and men all in black, circled the dance floor. Martin described the tango form as a social dance that “became a dance where the man is very aggressive and dominant and the woman is aloof.”

Ting Ting Yang ’09, dressed in black pants, a white button-up shirt and a tie, followed with an improvised tap dance to “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” She kept her composure, even as a stagehand had to readjust her flooring a few times when the two pieces of flooring drifted apart under the pressure of Yang’s steps.

The following Nepalese dance was a recreation from a videotape of choreography former Veslica dancers created for International Night in 2002. Veselica dancers are learning the piece for their spring performance, which will have an Asian dance focus.

Fresh Space included several duet pieces as part of a choreography class. The students built pieces based on touch, either pushing together or pulling apart. The most evocative of the three duets was “Mechanism” by Kathryn Ernst ‘06 and Hannah Swanson ‘08.

The music pulsed and chimed while the dancers moved in sequence, their movements causally linked like cogs in a machine. Their “business casual” dress, black pants and pinstriped button-up shirts, also gave the impression of the dancers as possibly inessential parts of a bigger whole.

The afternoon had only one piece showcasing a faculty member.

“The way this piece came about was sort of by accident,” said Assistant Professor of Dance Heather Klopchin of her “Duet for One,” dedicated to her grandmother. She put on a song by the Irish singer Niamh Parsons and “just started moving,” she said, creating “a long solo phrase.”

Klopchin’s flowing, shimmering white pants complemented her fluid movements, and she mirrored the wonder at the natural world that the song’s lyrics evoked.

Klopchin’s contemplative choreography was followed by the upbeat hip-hop of “a bunch of people who like to dance,” according to Irene Mineoi ’07. The nine-woman group, made up of international and American students, gathers on Saturday mornings to put together choreography informally.

Dressed in jeans with simple black T-shirts and tank tops, the fun the dancers were having was evident in their confident and sassy body movements and facial expressions.

Inevitable memory slips and prop “malfunctions” could not derail the fun of the afternoon, as St. Olaf dance enthusiasts came together to prove the vibrancy and love of movement that finds a home in the dance department.

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