Posts Tagged ‘student choreography’

Yep, Student Choreography Moved

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Sorrelle performing in one of the pieces in the Student Choreography Dance Concert. Courtesy photo.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

As the school year ends at Idyllwild Arts Academy, there is a mad cumulation of recitals, concerts, readings, plays, and art shows to attend. Sometimes two are three are scheduled for the same night, and you have to choose. Yet, one event stood out because it moved.

The “Student Choreography Dance Concert 2011” was held for three nights, from May 11 to May 13, in the Lewitsky-Fisher Dance Studio on campus. Every night, after the thunderous applause, attendees would spill out into the parking lot and gather in groups by their cars talking about which one they liked the best. Sometimes they lingered for a long time.

That happens a lot at events at Idyllwild Arts Academy. People enjoy the performances so much they don’t want to go home. If they could simply hit “replay,” and watch it all over again, they would.

Gina performed in many pieces but choreographed "Nerds."

Needless to say, the “Student Choreography” was packed every night. Even though the program lasted two hours, some students admitted to attending all three nights. There were 19 dances listed in the program complete with interesting titles, such as, “Look What I Can Do,” “Kneeling Before God,” “December Follies” and “Nerds.”

The 19 dances listed in the program was a significant increase from the 13 performed last year. Each junior and senior dance student created a piece. Some chose to perform their own choreography, while others did not. Yet, each of the 19 choreographers performed in as many as three other dances. The junior and senior dancers included: Christina, Gerard, Ariann, Morgan, Adrianna, Cheyenne, Geneva, Delaney, Will, Madison, Gina, Giovanna, Sorrelle, Lani, Ximena, Allison, Olivia, and two Natalias.

It would be impossible to review every dance, therefore we’ll just hit a few highlights from the final performance on Friday, May  13 (which was not an unlucky evening at all!)

Laura's song, "Time Bomb" was featured in Adrianna's dance piece, "The Last Ones Standing." Courtesy photo.

“Look at What I Can Do,” was perfectly titled for Morgan, a new dancer who plans to become a circus clown. His story focused on two dancers, himself and Christy, his love interest. As dancers would come in and out across the stage, Morgan would juggle, perform difficult acrobatic moves and whistle along to the circus-like music.

“The Last Ones Standing,” a piece by Adrianna, a senior, was notable for its music, which included XXX, Lykke Li, Postal Service, and Laura, an Idyllwild Arts film student. She was surprised that “Time Bomb,” the song that she wrote for one of the movies last year, would be used to dance to.

Everyone around Laura kept nudging her during Adrianna’s performance, saying, “That’s your song!” But she already knew.

“I had come to the dance studio the day before to get something, and heard them practicing,” Laura admitted. “It was really cool watching a dance performance to my own song.”

(from L) Ximena, Cheyenne and Amira's arm movements create a dramatic scene in Geneva's piece, "Pointless."

“Tonic and Gin,” by Natalia, was one of the crowd pleasers for its fun and festivity. The piece begins as Andy, one of the dancers, drinks from a wine bottle and staggers across the stage. The seven dancers, in peasant costumes all dance merrily to the music by Beirut. Props like balloons, the bottle, and flowers in the girl’s hair added a nice touch.

“It was so very European,” one woman exclaimed, as she sat cross-legged on the floor.

“December Follies,” choreographed by Delaney, featured three dancers to simple piano music. It must’ve been bittersweet for Delaney, as she stood in her leg sprint on the sidelines. A couple of weeks earlier, she had been rushing to a Sunday practice, and twisted her knee.

“Oh, my God! What happened?” screamed Jose, a fashion major, along with dancers Gina and Giovanna, as they got off the school van, and headed toward Delaney strapped in a gurney inside the ambulance with red flashing lights.

Delaney, who had been through this many times before with her knee, took it all in stride.

Adrianna in full dramatic makeup. Courtesy photo

“It looked worse than it was,” she said.

Yet, as Adrianna, Marianna and Sorrelle slammed down to the floor, and dragged themselves by their arms across the stage, one couldn’t help but think “December Follies” was about a recent accident.

“Kneeling Before God,” the Lady Gaga piece before the intermission was a huge crowd pleaser. It wasn’t surprising that Will would use Lady Gaga for his music and inspiration. In fact, two years in a row, Will has dressed up as Lady Gaga for Halloween, complete with dress, wig and six-inch heels. Yet, this time, he left the Gaga costumes aside, and just stuck with the glittery makeup.

“It sounded like one piece, but it was really five mixed into one,” explained Kai, a film major, who mixed the Lady Gaga music for Will. The five songs included: “Alejandro,” “Bad Romance,” “Pokerface,” “Telephone” and the “Vitamin String Quartet.”

Just like Lady Gaga, Will likes a big performance. Not only were there eight dancers with glittery tears (including Will), but three shirtless male models (er, theater and visual art students) who brought in the large columns.

Will danced and choreographed the popular Lady Gaga-centric piece, "Kneeling Before God." Courtesy photo

A fast moving strobe light enhanced the Michael Jackson-type unison moves, as Lady Gaga sang, “Judas is coming/let the baptism begin.” When the music ended, all eight dancers were sweating and smiling happily, but none more than Will.

After intermission, some of the people had cleared out, and there was room to breathe in the Lewitsky-Fisher Dance Studio.

First up was “Cualacino,” choreographed by Madison, and the only ballet piece in the all-modern show.

“I can’t blame them,” Maddy said afterwards. “We perform so much ballet every day, that everyone just wants to choreograph something else.”

Yet, with its four dancers in chiffon tutus and point shoes, to calming classical music, it was a welcome break.

Madison choreographed the only ballet piece in the show

“I picked four younger dancers that I knew who loved ballet and could pull it off,” Maddy said.

The four dancers included: Anna, Ximena, Annalise and Isabel.

Ximena held her own in “Kouche,” a modern piece with five dancers in similar navy and white dresses, who danced mostly in unison. It focused on one particular girl, Natalia, who kept pushing the other dancers away, until finally, in the end, she was left all alone.

Other choreographers brought in models or mixed up crazy music, but Olivia brought in another type of dance altogether. For “If I Should Die,” she invited Ryturo and Mitch, two theater majors, who knew how to dance hip-hop.

“I choreographed the hip-hop part,” explained Ryturo, who was shown leaping on the Spring Choreography program. “And Olivia did the rest.”

Morgan and Madison performed "Simple Wishes," an acrobatic piece by Cheyenne. Courtesy photo.

Although the hip-hop parts was brief onstage, it added a different tempo to Olivia’s modern piece.

“Bambara,” the final act choreographed by the other Natalia, was epic in its magnitude. Like Will’s piece, it featured dramatic makeup, costumes and a large number of dancers. The jungle sounding music used heavy drums and bird sounds to create an intense and chaotic story.

The seven dancers, looking like wild animals, began the piece huddle together in a large cage. As the jungle story enfolded, the dancers would leap, crawl and dance back and forth across the stage. In the end, only two broke away from the pack, and the cage, to form a new life.

Everyone knows that choreography is the brains behind the show. It takes time, skill and practice to put on a good show. This year, these 19 juniors and seniors have “raised the bar” a little higher. Their efforts were appreciated. It was truly spectacular to watch.

For those who missed it, keep looking for excerpts to show up on You Tube.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved. Special thanks to Ryturo and Idyllwild Arts Academy for all of the dance photos.

Published on: May 27, 2011 @ 8:59

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Student Dance Choreography This Week

Tuesday, May 10th, 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