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ISSUE 121 VOL 8 PUBLISHED 11/16/2007

Dittman welcomes 'Fresh Space'

By Jennifer Berghs
Contributing Writer

Friday, November 16, 2007

It's that time of year again in the St. Olaf dance department when current works in progress and other various projects are showcased in an informal concert fondly known as "Fresh Space."

Unlike "First Glimpse," which took place earlier this year and mostly featured works from the dance department faculty, this performance featured mostly the current works of St. Olaf students. The works presented in the concert were described by department chair Janice Roberts as "works that have just started to take formation to works that are just weeks away from being completed."

Although this concert was widely dominated by projects from this semester's "Improvisation and Choreography" class, there were a variety of pieces from students that are not currently enrolled in the choreography class.

Katelyn DeRuyter '11, who is not in the choreography class, showcased a piece entitled "Delve." DeRuyter explored the different ways the body moves, incorporating everything from simple head rolls and swings of the leg to inversion, or an upside down state of the body. The focus, which involves the gaze of the dancer's eye, of this piece was aimed less at the audience and more at the internal process, which further emphasized the intent of the piece.

This year, the St. Olaf Ballroom Performance Group also presented a sexy, sensual rumba to the pop music of Nelly Furtado. The piece was choreographed by two alumni, Rachel Kronsberg '02 and Nate Martin '01 (both former members of the group). Although the piece highlighted intimate contact with the partner, there were stunning moments of breaking away from that closeness, which were carefully choreographed to contrast the tight arrangement of each partner with his counterpart.

The St. Olaf Ballroom Performance Group has been around St. Olaf for years, but this concert also held the premiere of a new hip-hop performance group at St. Olaf. This fall, a group of students, led by Nicoletta Maes '11 and Nathaniel Viets-VanLear '11, started meeting regularly to unwind and to explore the art of hip-hop dance. They presented "Hip Hop Skool," a work full of hip-hop partnering.

Among the many works-in-progress pieces presented, Tim Rehborg '08 presented his nearly complete dance. His piece revolved around improvisation, which is dancing without set choreography. The only thing that Rehborg set prior to the performance was the music. Rehborg gave his dancers free reign to enter and exit the stage at will. When on stage, they formed duets with other dancers which could be dissolved as quickly as they were formed. The ability to form lasting moments of harmonization has been something these dancers have practiced since mid-September, and it is obvious from the performance that their skills have really developed to an advanced level.

Choreography students Rehborg and Brittany Paulsen '10 developed their piece as far as using props and incorporated the use of a single blue glove on the right hand to emphasize moments of simple pedestrian waving of the hand.

Not only were there the presentations of the duets, there were also two very different solo projects prepared by Natalie Neal '10 and Berit Nelson '10 (performed by Nicoletta Maes '11). In her solo piece, Neal explored the various stages of grief. The piece progressed from confined and contained gestures to expansive and traveling movement. Her inspiration came from the book "A Grief Observed" by C.S. Lewis. In Nelson's solo, titled "Dust," she utilized the heavy hip-hop background of Maes to combine it with more modern dance material to create a beautiful marriage of the two genres.

One student enrolled in the class, Heidi Gusa '09, showed a work that was inspired by a study of the famous choreographer Stephen Pertronio.

As a whole, "Fresh Space" served its purpose in showcasing current students' works. This concert also served as a precursor to the formal concert put on by the dance department every December. This concert also features works solely created or performed by senior dance majors. With the success of "Fresh Space" last weekend, it looks like the senior concert is shaping up to be a night of choreographic genius.

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