Courage and Creativity at the Student Dance Showcase

Creativity takes courage, and putting your ideas on stage for the world to see is a baring of the soul like no other. This weekend, students of the Hope College Dance Department present their choreography, some for the first time, in the biannual Student Dance Showcase. They are nervous, excited and hopeful, hopeful that their pieces touch the audience, or challenge the audience, or both.

Photo by Erik Alberg

Some students are choreographing for a grade, finished pieces serving as their culminating efforts for Composition class. Others simply love to create, and the Student Dance Showcase provides the perfect forum.

The creative process can be both exhilarating and exasperating, both terrifying and life-giving. Within the studio, a choreographer researches form and content, the ‘what,’ ‘why’ and ‘how’ of movement invention, employing choreographic tools and devices that turn ideas into art. For the spring Showcase, student choreographers begin their pieces in January, first working alone and then inviting their peers in the Dance Department and across campus into a busy weekly rehearsal process through April. Following spring break the choreographers present their mostly-finished pieces to Showcase advisers Professors Shauna Steele and Angela Yetzke. The advisers give feedback and offer creative solutions to each student’s choreographic roadblocks. Then comes the difficult decision-making.

It is up to Steele and Yetzke to determine which pieces will be presented formally at the Knickerbocker Theatre and which will be presented in the Dow 207 studio that converts to a small white-box theater. Student choreographers placed in the Knickerbocker have the unique opportunity to work with Erik Alberg, Technical Director for the Performing Arts, who creates individual lighting designs for each piece presented. Typically, the Knickerbocker pieces are further developed or warrant a type of technical support only possible in an actual theater, but not always. Some pieces are strategically chosen for the intimate setting of the Dow studio where nuance and detail are highlighted in exquisite ways.

The 21 pieces presented in this year’s spring Showcase were thoughtfully placed and range from ballet to contemporary to jazz to hip hop to dance theater. Three pieces are multidisciplinary in nature. Juniors Anna Smith and Andi Yost bring color to their collaborative movement creation, paint in hand, their bodies as canvas (Dow shows). Senior Chanel Harrison incorporates her original poetry into a duet with fellow senior Alex Pasker (Knick shows). International student Elizabeth Estrada Flores from the Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro in Querétaro, Mexico, layers dance and live music, collaborating with sophomore business and jazz studies major Michael J. Penida who accompanies her bluesy, playful jazz duet on saxophone (Knick shows).

Come support these brave young artists. Allow their courage and creativity to inspire your own. Please join us for the Spring Student Dance Showcase, this Friday, Dow 207, 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; this Saturday, Knickerbocker Theatre, 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. All shows are free.

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