Student dancers, musicians, choreographers show hard work, training

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Their bodies are well trained, and their movements are practiced. They glide about their playing field with grace and ease. They have worked for months, and on opening night, they are ready to bring down the house.

For the dancers, musicians and choreographers whose work was on display the opening night of SpringDance 2007 Friday, there was no opponent and no point system. No one went won a trophy or other symbol of his or her achievement. Instead, the months of mental and physical preparation they underwent helped them reach a different goal: putting on a good show.

“It’s nice to finally get to show night,” said Saylor Burgess, senior in dance and women’s studies. “We’ve just been working endless hours, and it’s so nice to have an audience – that’s my favorite part … because even though it’s the same dance I’ve been doing for months, tonight, it’s going to be different.”

This year, SpringDance, the annual production members of the Department of Speech Communication, Theater and Dance put on, included some new features, one of which was live music. Dancers and choreographers teamed with members of the Department of Music to add what Burgess called an element of professionalism.

“When you go to dance productions like in New York (City) or somewhere like that, you will see live music most of the time,” she said.

Members of the KSU Orchestra, under the direction of David Littrell, professor of orchestral music, accompanied several pieces, as did many other musicians, some of whom were not affiliated with K-State.

For the piece “Take Five,” choreographer Julie Pentz, assistant professor of dance, included two musicians on stage and a live Internet feed, which allowed musician Allan Molnar to accompany on percussion from his studio in New York City.

Faculty like Pentz were not the only ones to incorporate live musicians. For her piece, “Untitled,” choreographer and solo dancer Hallie Friend, junior in sociology, featured Mikey Needleman, senior in social science, on guitar. Callie Peterson, senior in theater, utilized live percussionists for the up-tempo, modern jazz piece she choreographed, titled “Outta Beat.”

“I really enjoyed doing the student choreography piece,” said Julie Powell, junior in accounting. “It was really neat to almost be a part of the choreography because it seemed more like a group effort.”

The live music provided an element that could attract audience members whose primary interest might not be in dance, said Meg Wilson, sophomore in interior architecture and product design.

Powell said because the benefit of performing in a show like SpringDance is not necessarily tangible or obvious, it was important for each performer to keep his or her personal motivations in mind during the long rehearsal process.

“It’s about doing it for yourself,” Powell said, “but the beauty is that we get to share it with other people – with our audience and with each other.”

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