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Companydance’s original performances dazzle audience

Amy Lohmann, Staff Writer

From Paris to the ocean, the Companydance Spring Concert whisked its audience through a myriad of moods, mindsets and movements.

Held in Kelsey Theater at 7:30 p.m. from May 1 – 3, the concert featured pieces choreographed by dance department faculty Artist in Residence Anthony Roberts, Professor of Dance Janice Roberts, students Karina Culloton ’15, Julia Moser-Hardy ’14, Ashley R.T. Yergens ’14, Ben Swenson-Klatt ’16 and guest artist Alexandra Beller.

The nine featured pieces differed greatly in tone and style. Certain pieces felt more reflective and quiet, such as “This is what I know,” choreographed by Culloton, where dancers swayed in circular motion to the soothing sounds of waves and acoustic guitar, or “Through My Mother’s Eyes,” choreographed by Janice Roberts, which featured three female dancers (Culloton, Yergens and Mariah MacFarland ’14) interacting against a stark black backdrop.

Other pieces played with setting, like “Feed Your Ears with Stories to Swallow,” choreographed and danced by Swenson-Klatt. Swenson-Klatt’s piece featured a solo character, dressed in a white shirt and tie, exploring movement in contrast with motionless by-standers in Parisian dress, sitting at café tables.

The audience reacted strongly throughout the show. The patriarchy-poking “Moving Men,” featuring male dancers Sam Adams ’15, Cal Knickerbocker ’16, Adam Levonian ’14 and Stephen Sweeney ’15 clad in suits, drew laughter from the audience as the dancer crawled, leaped and sprinted while mimicking various gendered movements.

The audience also gave an enthusiastic response to the pop-culture piece “Is this more ladylike?” choreographed by Yergens. The work featured solo dancer Katherine Griffis ’15 against a backdrop of video clips featuring images of Griffis both in motion and immobile. Equally exciting was the edgy number “You can only, and enter,” choreographed by guest artist Beller. This piece showcased dancers dressed in what can only be described as Victorian-goth garb and exploded with raging intensity, frantic movement and pulsating beats.

The show ended with a tribute to Jennifer Koenig ’87, who danced at St. Olaf as an undergraduate student and served as Associate College Pastor before her death in the fall of 2013. “Celebrating Jennifer” exuded elegant joy and certainly conveyed the respect and passion felt for Koenig by the dance department.

“The pieces represent the department in their diversity,” dancer Kelsey Daly ’14 said. “I feel that all of us in the dance department have a unique voice when it comes to dance, and I think the mix of pieces really speaks to everyone’s individual experiences.”

The hours of preparation in rehearsal and tech week paid off in this concert, which Janice Roberts refers to as “a labor of love.”

“The students looked wonderful and have worked very hard to get to this place,” Roberts said.

Seeing all the technical pieces of the show come together is a highlight for performers.

“The most exciting part of putting together the performances has really been seeing these pieces that we have been working on all year come together with costumes and lights,” Daly said. “It makes all of our hard work worth it to be on the stage performing.”

 

lohmanna@stolaf.edu

Photo Credit: HANNAH RECTOR/MANITOU MESSENGER
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