When human biology senior and Orchesis Dance Company executive director Katie Heise walks into the Orchesis studio in IM Circle’s basement, the 8:45 p.m. practice time is not what she is thinking about. That would be her excitement to do the thing she loves, dance, with the people she loves.
Orchesis, a dance company composed of MSU students of various grades and skill levels, is having their winter show this Friday through Sunday in the MSU auditorium. Just a few nights ago, the dancers got a chance to see all the performances before their big weekend.
“Seeing it on the stage for the first time yesterday with all the lights and everything coming together, it was the greatest time of the semester,” marketing junior Sloan Lemberg said. “Just because you almost become blind to it after a bit when you see the same dance over and over again, you can't really see it for what it is, but then I really looked at it and took a step back, and I was just so proud of my dancers.”
The auditorium will be set up like a black box theater, which means that the audience will be sitting on all four sides of the stage, adding a unique element to the show.
“For the choreographers, it's a big challenge for them to have to think about not only are we performing to the front, but we're performing to the back and the left and the right,” Heise said. “We don't want just the technical front to be getting the show. It's cool because if you sit at any angle, you'll catch something different going on in the dance.”
“Redivivus” is the name of this show. It means “the act of something coming back to life; being reborn.” This show, following almost two years of being unable to perform live due to COVID-19, symbolizes the rebirth of dance to these dancers.
“I think that the arts community is going to see a huge sense of rebirth and growth over this next year after being isolated,” human biology senior Kathryne Rojeck said. “I think that a lot of art has come from that. Our show doesn't necessarily show the ideas of pandemic, but it shows the idea of being back together.”
The arts have taken a huge hit in the past couple years due to the pandemic, but Orchesis dancers ensured the show went on by virtually performing their dances. With that being said, they are all overjoyed to be performing traditionally once again.
“Nothing ever will match the energy of the stage,” Lemberg said.
The poster used to advertise the show was made by Lemberg and arts and humanities senior Jake Price, who is Orchesis’ vice executive director. They drew inspiration from TV Girl’s “French Exit” album cover as well as “Redivivus.”
“We just wanted to do something really warm and kind of retro, and really welcoming and unifying because this is our first performance in two years,” Price said. “I kind of came up with the idea of the speech on the show posters, the "come together again.”... I like the idea of coming together again with our audience and with the people who always come to see Orchesis shows.”
Price choreographed one of the nine dances that will be performed at this weekend’s show. He explained that it was the darkest, yet comedic dance in the whole show.
“There's moments where my dancers audibly laugh at the audience,” Price said. “It's kind of a critique on audience and performer relationship… I feel that the audience can take away that even during dark times or when you're having dark thoughts, you can still find a way to laugh.”
Although most of the dances do not explicitly convey messages of the pandemic, one choreographed by Alyssa Dickerson does.
“It's called ‘Recuperation,’” Rojeck said. “She uses audio from the news during the pandemic, and her dancers are dancing within a bubble.”
Orchesis dancers have been working on this show since the start of fall semester. Auditions were held at the beginning of the semester, and hour and a half rehearsals took place one night a week for most dances.
Residences, or dances choreographed by professional guest choreographers, however, are a whole other story. For these, dancers are taught and fully learn the dance all in the span of a week.
“It's pretty crazy,” packaging and experienced architect junior Lauren Kurzawa said. “It's like you go in for rehearsal each day, four hours, super intense. The piece gets thrown at you, but it's so fun. It's so challenging. And then we kind of just hope that our rehearsal time works, and if it doesn't, then you come, you come to technique and pressures on. You got to pull it together by Friday for the show.”
What makes Orchesis different from other dance companies is that its dancers come from a variety of backgrounds. Some have competitive dance experience, while others have theater experience.
“It's really interesting to see everyone come together with their different experiences and backgrounds and see how we can all utilize our strengths to put on a show,” Kurzawa said.
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Many dancers cite tech week, which is the week before a performance, as the best time of the semester because not only do they get to interact with one another, but they get to bond at a whole new level as they are in the studio dancing for hours a night.
“I feel like everyone is so much closer as a whole [by the end of tech week] because we've just been together so much longer,” environmental studies junior Emilee Csom said.
Although the dancers are proud and looking forward to showcasing their hard work, it is bittersweet.
“I can imagine in our closing show, I'm just going to be so proud of everything we did because everybody is pushing full force,” Lemberg said. “There's nobody that's not into this. Every single person in that room is excited and ready to dance, and I think that's so special.”
Orchesis’ “Redivivus” winter show will be taking place at the MSU auditorium on Jan. 21 at 7 pm, Jan. 22 at 2 pm and 7 pm and Jan. 23 at 2 pm. Tickets will be available for $10 at the door. To view the show virtually, fill out this form: https://forms.gle/7KMbdCAxMuceeJ2GA
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