Posts Tagged ‘ballet’

Student Dance Choreography This Week

May 10, 2011

Adrianna (center) will be among those showcasing her choreographic dance talents this week

By Marcia E. Gawecki

This week, the junior and senior dancers at Idyllwild Arts Academy will showcase their choreography talents. The same shows will run Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights at 7:30 p.m.

For me, choreography has always been the “brains” behind the physical side of dance. You could have beautiful, talented dancers, but if the piece wasn’t interesting, then it didn’t work. Lucky for all of us who attend the dance performances at Idyllwild Arts, the choreography has always been top notch.

However, I took it for granted, until just recently. Eight dancers from Idyllwild Arts were invited to perform a modern dance piece at The Colburn Shcool’s Spring Dance Concert on May 7.  The students included: Adrianna, Gina, Giovanna, Madison, Michelle, Gerard, Annalise and Morgan.

Maybe it was the fact that the program was heavily laden with ballet numbers (eight suites from “Coppelia” started the show). But when the eight dancers from Idyllwild Arts took the stage, it was a like a breath of fresh air.

“Here come the professionals!” the other driver whispered to me.

“Episodica,” choreographed by Stephanie Gilliand and dancers, opened with a bold, red backlight. In silhouette, three dancers began pulling, twisting and contorting their T-shirts in many ways as they moved across the stage. The backbeat of the music was strong. There was a hushed silence from the audience, just like the start of many Circus de Soleil events.

The T-shirts took many forms, from pregnancy to a shroud. Did “Episodica” have political undertones? Was it about transitions? Transformations? No one knew for sure.

Throughout the next 10 minutes, each of the dancers ran from the sidelines, leaped into the air, and pulled and pushed each other. Some looked like physical struggles, while others personal agonies. At one time, all of them were lying down on the stage, while one pulled herself up from the carnage.

Each of the dancers were physically fit. Some performed handstands, while others leaped off the backs of other dancers. All I could think of was, “Yikes, they’ll all be feeling the bruises tomorrow!”

During intermission, the students all got into the van, talking enthusiastically about the experience. It was good for them to perform on another stage and before a new audience. Instead of being tired, they were elated. Many of them had started the day taking the four-hour-long SAT test.

No one knew what “Episodica” was about, but said that they had performed it once before at their own Spring Dance Concert. I longed to ask Stephanie what her motivations were for the wonderful choreography. How long did it take to create it? And did it change after it was performed? Was it a challenge to create such a fast-paced piece?

Some of the dancers began talking about the Student Choreography dances that will be showcased starting Wednesday, May 11.

“Sorelle’s piece is so fast,” exclaimed Adrianna. “You’re only off stage for a tenth of a second, and then back on again!”

“But that’s so like Sorelle,” another said. “She likes everything to be so physical.”

Each of the juniors and seniors who created the dances got to hand select their dancers. Most will create a piece and dance in two more.

If last year’s student choreography was any indication, audience members are in for a real treat. Each piece was as diverse as the dancers who created them. Some showcased traditional tango, while others were moody dream sequences. One paid tribute to a friend who was recently expelled, while another featured inmates in an insane asylum. (See “The Brains Behind 13 Dances” blog entry dated May 16, 2010).

The beauty of living in a creative environment like Idyllwild Arts is that students can draw upon the talents of their peers.

For Olivia’s piece, Ryturo and Mitch, both theater majors, will be dancing hip hop.

“I choreographed the hip hop part, while Olivia choreographed the other dancers,” Ryturo said, before going to Tuesday’s technical rehearsal.

Ryturo was excited about dancing hip hop again on stage. He started when he was about six years old in Singapore. Mitch just started a couple of years ago, Ryturo said, but he’s pretty good. The two will add an edgy element to Olivia’s choreography.

For Wills piece, he asked his friend Kai, a film major, to mix his music.

“We took about five Lady Gaga songs and made them sound like one,” Kai said.

Will, who has dressed as Lady Gaga for Halloween before, will showcase her again in his choreographed piece.

Student Choreography will be held Wednesday through Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Fischer-Lewitsky Dance Studio (across from Bowman) on the Idyllwild Arts campus. The event is free and open to the public. But seating is limited, so you may want to arrive early. For more information, visit or call (951) 659-2171.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: May 10, 2011 @ 16:40

The Brains Behind 13 Dances

May 16, 2010

leva portrays an inmate in a piece choreographed by Ariann

Whenever, I’d see a dance performance, whether it be at Idyllwild Arts, RedCat or somewhere else, I would always focus on the dancers.  Can you blame me? They were strong, attractive, and created “poetry in motion.”

But, I never thought of the message, or the brains behind the piece. I was only looking at the end result. But someone had to come up with the concept, with the ideas, and the dance steps.

It’s like when we see a movie, or a play, or an article, we don’t think of the originator, only the message. Well, it’s time that we thought about the dance choreographer. He or she is the one who starts with a blank page, or an empty dance floor, and fills the space with movement, sound and beauty.

Kayla dances to leva's piece

Tonight, Saturday, May 15, Idyllwild Arts celebrated its student choreography night. Each of the juniors and seniors in the Dance Department had to create one piece. Generally, it lasted three to 10 minutes. They had to come up with everything from start to finish, including the message, dance steps, costumes, lighting and music.

As if that wasn’t enough, then they had to dance in two or three other pieces that their classmates choreographed. There were 13 pieces in all, and each was unique in their own right.

Only Ellen Rosa, head of the Dance Department, knew the message behind each of these pieces.

Tonight was the last night of a three-night run that began on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Most of the parents came that night. There was so many people in the Fisher Dance Studio that they had to turn some away, one student said.

Tonight, there was an enthusiastic crowd of 150 friends, classmates, family members and folks from Idyllwild who like dance. Some, like Tucker McIntyle, head of the Transportation Department, had never been to a dance performance before.

“We take these kids in vans everywhere, but I never saw what they could do–until tonight,” McIntyre said. “I was really surprised and pleased with what I saw.”

Of the 13 pieces, I was only able to see six of them–only those that came after the intermission.

But, just because I wasn’t there, doesn’t mean that those first seven pieces didn’t count. They meant a lot to those who were there. They included: “Hypnotic,” choreographed by Dakota Bailey; “Stamina Break,” by Kayla Tuggle; “XOXO,” by Olivia Jones; “Irritated,” by Geneva Winters; “Balletic Randomness,” by Tramayne Pauillac Johnson; “Between the Folds,” by David Strong and Kayla Tuggle; and “Maple Rain” by Cyndi Huang.

Like searching through the channels on a radio dial, some of the choreographed pieces were techno, others classical, and still others rock n’ roll. And I’m not talking just about the music, but the mood.

It began with “All I Want,” choreographed by David “DJ” Strong, one of the few male dancers at Idyllwild Arts. He’s here on scholarship, and plans to go to college in the fall. His piece was surprisingly sentimental and romantic. The music by Ahn Trio, set the tone. Dancers included himself, Kayla, Allison, Macarena, Ellen and leva, all in black sports bras and tap pants.

The dancers moved back and forth across the stage, in a cat-and-mouse approach of chasing, then letting go. It reflected a male-female courtship, and DJ did a nice job of keeping our interest.

The second piece was created by Ellen entitled, “Empty Soul. ‘Be Good to Yourself-ASM.'”  With that title, one can’t help but think there’s a secret message there. Who is ASM? Anyway, it was a wonderful piece in its simplicity. It showcased the ballet talents of twins Gina and Giovanna. One was dressed in a gown, while the other in babydoll pajamas.

Although it was ballet, and beautiful to watch, you couldn’t help but see the turmoil, the trauma, and finally, the resolution between the two. Who were they? Lovers? Brothers and sisters? They would come together, break apart, hug each other, hurt each other, chase one another, then finally come to some resolution of sorts.

It reminded me of the start of “Peter Pan,” when the children, all innocent and dressed in their night clothes, were looking outside. You just knew that something was going to happen, and they would never be the same again.

“Who Cares What They Think?” was choreographed by leva Navickaite with music by Yann Tiersen and Apocalyptica. The dancers were Anna, Kayla, Allison, Adrianna and Dakota. The lighting was red, which, like the glib title, set the tone. Each of the dancers formed a line, and performed robotic movements. As props, leva used three boxes, that were used as stands, and crawl spaces by the dancers. At the end, they were stacked on top of each other.

In the beginning the music was rhythmic, and gave the impression that everything and everyone was the same. There were no individuals, only robots doing what they were told. One couldn’t help but think this piece may have been a commentary on life as a teenager, with too much uniformity, and not enough freedom. Or it could have been a sharp look at student classes at Idyllwild Arts, maybe even dance classes?

The lyrics resounded of someone fed up with the responsibility of always doing the right thing and “cleaning up.”

“Why, Nancy?” was choreographed by Ella, with music by Why. The cast included DJ, Giovanna, Gina, Ella, Macarena and Kayla.

It was a frenetic, frenzied piece in which the originator was frustrated, mad, and spinning around. It was her reaction to a decision beyond her control. Earlier in the week, she confided that the dance was about the expulsion of her best friend, Ben.

The title, “Why, Nancy?” is not about a woman as you’d might think, but about a guy.

“Nancy was Ben’s nickname,” Ella said.

“I’m lucky to have dance as another form of self expression,” Ella said. “The irony is that Ben had never seen me dance. And now he’s got a piece named after him.”

Like most art, dance can be a haven, a sanctuary, a place to heal from the outside world. And to say something without using conventional words.

“Te Anuncio” was choreographed by Sofia to a Shakir music piece. It had red lighting, and tango dancers. It reminded me of Argentina, and the bold dance that started with men dancing with other men in the docks.

Dakota and DJ were the tango dancing pair, while Geneva, Tramayne and Paulina were the dancers. They were all dressed in black and red, with signature flowers in their hair. The couple continued front and center with their seduction for each other.

After all, tango is a very sensual, physical dance.

The final piece by Ariann was entitled, “Out of My Mind, Back in Five Minutes,” with music by Marc Kets, Associate Dean of Students. Before coming to Idyllwild Arts, Kets worked with many DJs.

The costumes, which were created by Jacob, a student from the Theater Department, were torn and tattered. Some crossed in the front, resembling straight jackets from an insane asylum.

In fact, the sign as backdrop behind the dancers read: “Idyllwild Pychiatric Hosptial.” Of course, there is no hospital here. Was she saying that going here was driving her nuts? As one might expect, the dancers were uniform at first, then others broke away and showed their individuality.

Adriann brought in the spoken word into dance. Some of the dancers spoke of why they ended up there. Some were accidents, others were traumas that never healed.

Like “Cookoo’s Nest set to music, “Out of My Mind” was a definite crowd pleaser, with over-the-top crazy sterotypes, with inmates with sunken eyes, straight jackets, sad stories with no hope and no place to go.

Ironically, Idyllwild housed a sanitarium at one time, where nice people cane to rest their nerves. It was also the summer resting place of the Cahuilla Indians, who came up from the desert to the San Jacinto mountains for the cooler weather. Legend has it that even the mountain lions laid with the deer up in Idyllwild. Wait, now that’s crazy!

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