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Concert gives students opportunity to continue dancing

February 2, 2011
A dancer pauses during rehearsal for the MSU Orchesis Student Dance Concert Tuesday night at the Circle Theater. The biannual concert features the work of student choreographers, dancers, and directors. Matt Hallowell/The State News
A dancer pauses during rehearsal for the MSU Orchesis Student Dance Concert Tuesday night at the Circle Theater. The biannual concert features the work of student choreographers, dancers, and directors. Matt Hallowell/The State News —
Photo by Matt Hallowell | and Matt Hallowell The State News

Four years ago, when high school was coming to an end and college came into the picture, Claire Stanecki had to make a decision.

“I’ve been dancing pretty much my entire life,” said the communicative sciences and disorders senior.

When Stanecki was in high school, she danced nearly every day and wanted to incorporate dance into her college program as a freshman.

“I had taken the dance technique class the first semester,” she said. “After that I couldn’t fit it in with my schedule, but I still wanted to be involved.”

That’s when she found the MSU student dance organization, Orchesis.

Under the supervision of Sherrie Barr, associate professor of theatre and director of dance, the Orchesis Dance Concert will premiere at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the Auditorium’s Arena Theatre.

There are five shows, with the last performance happening at 2 p.m. Sunday.

The show consists of six numbers, with five choreographed by students and a guest number by Barr.

Following the premiere tonight, a post-performance discussion with the performers will take place, where audience members can stay and ask questions.

The goal of Orchesis is to bring dance to the community, offering non-credit technique classes to students of all levels taught by students in Orchesis.

“Anyone can be a member,” Stanecki said. “You just have to want to dance.”

With help from the MSU Department of Theatre faculty and students, Orchesis created a show with a newer style of dance. The students’ work emphasizes the power of simple gestures to influence expression with more modern steps versus the traditional forms of dance, such as ballet, jazz or tap.

“It’s about how everyday movements can be dance,” said Emily Davis, an art history and visual culture senior.

Davis is one of the organization’s members who will perform in the show and is working toward a dance minor. The option to minor in dance also is new to MSU’s program offerings this year.

“It used to just be a specialization,” Stanecki said. “There are a few more requirements. It’s pretty exciting for the dance department.”

Erin Jarve, a human biology and anthropology senior, said the goal of the show is to give students with a dance minor the choreography experience and a chance to perform on stage.

“It’s all instrumental for the most part — we tend to stay away from words,” Jarve said. “We like our movement to influence the audience.”

Not only are dance students gaining performance experience, but lighting students and stage managers have combined efforts with Orchesis to incorporate their skills and bring the show to life.

“All of these people are students,” said Ryan Davies, assistant professor of lighting design, in an e-mail. “They each need a certain amount of support, input (and) guidance, and I provide it for them.”

Preparations for the show began in early September with choreographer auditions, followed by dancer auditions weeks later. But artistic directors Jarve and Davis said they began making plans far in advance.

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“Emily and myself have been working on it since the end of last school year ­— it’s been a process,” Jarve said.

For more information about the show or to purchase tickets, visit theatre.msu.edu.

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