WKU Dance company to present original pieces

Kristina Burton

WKU Dance students, alumni present ‘The Dance Project’

Students of WKU’s Dance Company will grace the stage Feb. 14-16 and perform original pieces portraying an array of stories and styles in “The Dance Project,” which is part of the Department of Theatre and Dance Next Stage Series.

Although some pieces have been choreographed and rehearsed by students over the past few months, pieces choreographed by returning WKU alumni have to be set and performed within a week’s time leading up to the performance.

Rebecca Gotsch, a 2009 WKU graduate from St. Louis, Missouri and one of the alumni choreographers for “The Dance Project,” said it allows WKU dancers to get their feel of the choreography process.

“Along with it being another performance opportunity, they get the experience of going through the process of creating a dance, having to teach it, and then performing it,” Gotsch said.

Amanda Clark, an associate professor of theatre and dance, said “The Dance Project” is an opportunity for students to have their own concert.

“’Dance Project’ is entirely student-produced,” Clark said. “It’s their own concert with their own work. They get to cast the dancers they choose, work with lighting designers, and create a full-length production of their own.”

Kylene Stephens, a 2013 WKU graduate from Russiaville, Indiana and another of the alumni choreographers, said the theme of her dance is the struggle with alcoholism.

“It’s about turning to alcohol for your problems and getting lost in that vice and using it as an excuse for not reaching your full potential,” Stephens said.

Mitchell Haley, a 2013 WKU graduate from Harrodsburg and another of the alumni choreographers for “The Dance Project,” said his piece is called “Ray of Hope.”

“It’s based on each person’s hope for something,” Haley said. “It’s a contemporary jazz piece. The beginning is a very soft, easy movement, the middle is fast and harder-hitting, and they both blend at the end. There will also be some playing with colors in the piece, using ‘ray’ as a play on words.”

Gotsch said her piece is based on chaos and is called “Let The World Turn By.”

“One dancer is going to rush, going from thing to thing, and there will be two others that go at a slower pace,” Gotsch said. “My dance was kind of already set because I’ve been graduated longer and I’m a dance teacher, so I’m reworking it. I also expect some things to change because these dancers have more ability and the space will be smaller.”

Stephens said she likes to challenge her dancers—mentally, physically and artistically.

“The WKU Dance Company isn’t that big, it’s very tightknit, so I want to give them the opportunity to work with someone different or play with a style they maybe haven’t done before,” Stephens said.

Haley said he likes to give his dancers artistic choice.

“Not everything I do will work for them,” Haley said. “I want to challenge them, give them new works and elements of movement they can use in their daily choreography skills.”

Gotsch said she hopes “The Dance Project” can be a learning process for both the dancers and herself as a teacher.

“It’s a different setting for me because I usually work with younger kids,” Gotsch said. “I’m excited to work with people who have more talent than ten-year-olds and learn from that.”

Clark said “The Dance Project” is a challenge for both the choreographers and the dancers.

“There are four other pieces choreographed by current students,” Clark said. “They’ve had the entire fall semester to work on them, so they’ve been working for three months. The alumni just have one weekend to set the piece and perform it the next weekend.”

Jade Primicias, a Mayfield junior, said she auditioned for “The Dance Project” because she had just returned from studying abroad in Harlaxton and therefore wasn’t able to be in any of the previously choreographed pieces.

“It’s a good opportunity to get experience in performances, and it’s also a great opportunity for students and alumni to collaborate together,” Primicias said.

Primicias said she expected the week of preparation for “The Dance Project” to be a busy one.

“We’re learning all the pieces in one weekend,” Primicias said. “We have tech week all next week and the show starts on Friday. Not only are we going to have to balance tech week with our classes and schedules, but it’s also new choreography that’s not necessarily in our bodies as much.”

Alexis Fischer, a sophomore from Cincinnati, Ohio, said she hopes to get a diverse group of students and people from Bowling Green to come and support her and her fellow dancers.

“This will be a more intimate performance where you can see it up close and in person,” Fischer said. “It’s a bunch of people coming together for the love of dance, and I hope we can all perform to the best of our ability.”

Stephens said she hopes to be happy with how her piece turns out and that her dancers will be comfortable on stage.

Haley said he wants his piece to really let his dancers show each of their individual abilities, as well as get their faces out in the public.

Gotsch said she hopes someone is touched artistically by what they see at “The Dance Project.”

Stephens said so much time and energy goes into “The Dance Project,” and that audience members will never know what they’re going to see.

“There will be someone on stage that catches your eye or some theme, dance, or element that touches you or moves you in some way,” Stephens said. “Come support the community, the Dance Company, and growth within yourself. It’s only about an hour long, and it will make you think differently about stuff.”

Gotsch said art is something that’s powerful and moving and “The Dance Project” is a chance for people to get an appreciation for live art that’s ever-changing.

“It’s never the same,” Gotsch said. “If you go see a painting, that painting is not going to change.”

Dagny Hamilton, a freshman from Houston, Texas, said “The Dance Project” is a good way to ease yourself into coming to performances by the WKU Dance Company.

“It’s not formal,” Hamilton said. “You can literally see the sweat dripping off of our bodies and faces, so that’s a different way of watching it and a good way to get into it.”

Clark said it’s exciting for the dancers to work with alumni and make networking connections.

“The alums can share their real world experience and give tips and guidance, especially for those students who are just starting out,” Clark said.

Stephens said it’s an awesome experience to get to come back and choreograph at WKU.

“In the real world, you don’t get free space, dancers, lighting and musicians,” Stephens said. “For us, it’s a huge opportunity to better ourselves in what it is we’re trying to do for the rest of our lives.”

“The Dance Project” will be performed in the Gordon Wilson Hall Lab Theatre.

Performances take place at 8 p.m. Feb. 14-15 and 3 p.m. Feb. 16. Tickets are $6 and may be purchased online at wku.showare.com or by calling the box office at (270) 745-3121.