Student Dance Project is Dec. 1-2

The Student Dance Project is Dec. 1-2 in Mabel Lee Hall's Dance Space.
The Student Dance Project is Dec. 1-2 in Mabel Lee Hall's Dance Space.

Student Dance Project is Dec. 1-2

calendar icon21 Nov 2017    user iconBy Kathe C. Andersen

Lincoln, Neb.--The Glenn Korff School of Music presents the 13th annual Student Dance Project Dec. 1-2. This program of original work by student choreographers is directed by Associate Professor of Dance Susan Ourada.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. each night in Mabel Lee Hall Rm. 304/310. Mabel Lee is located at 14th and Vine streets.

“This is a very diverse show of 16 dances made by 15 current students and one recent graduate,” Ourada said. “It’s a modern dance-based show, but there are influences from jazz and ballet and hip-hop and really anything you can imagine.”

The performance is the result of the dance composition class.

“The students not only have to do studies in class that hopefully inform their work as choreographers, but they also have to keep moving forward on having a work made in under 15 weeks,” Ourada said.

The students audition students to perform in their pieces and work to find music.

“One of the pieces by Jordan Patt actually has live original music,” Ourada said. “Her previous work was selected last year for the American College Dance Association Regional Conference Gala, which was a huge honor. This year, she’s making her work with a live musician.”

In addition, Ourada collaborates with Associate Professor of Theatre Laurel Shoemaker, who assigned graduate student Jaime Mancuso to be the liaison between dance and the theatre program.

“We’re having about eight undergraduate and graduate lighting designers design the show so it has a really professional, beautiful look,” Ourada said.

Sophomore Thao Duong, who is originally from Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, and who is a dual major in dance and advertising and public relations, said that professional look impressed her when she first saw the show as a freshman.

“I was a freshman when I first watched the Student Dance Project, and I was impressed at how professional the show looked,” Duong said. “This year, I have the opportunity to be a part of it and experience the process of making the show. I feel so proud to be a UNL Dance program student.”

Duong has created a duet titled “The Shining Red Sun is My Heart.”

“The piece is about kindness,” she said. “I think that it’s not always easy to be kind all the time. Sometimes when you get hurt too much then you don’t want to care about doing the right things anymore. You might feel like there’s a battle within yourself. My dancers in this piece represent the thoughts when I faced that battle within myself. Sometimes my thoughts get along well with each other. Sometimes a part of it dominates my mind. Sometimes they get out of control, fight each other and raise conflicts. My dancers also represent the people who have hurt and helped me in my life. They also represent the strangers who had helped me a lot just by giving me a smile. However, that’s my original personal story and inspiration. I want my dancers to tell their story.”

She is participating in the Student Dance Project as both a choreographer and a performer.

“This is a great opportunity for me to gain experiences, as well as express my thoughts to a big audience,” Duong said. “Having it performed officially and professionally makes me feel like I’m spreading my inspiration to more people. Dancing is not just a hobby for me, it is a true passion that I respect and take it seriously. It is also amazing how each of us, the choreographers, has something very meaningful and personal to us, we put it in our dance, and it has a chance to become something emotionally personal to someone else out there in the audience. Each person can have their own way to understand and enjoy our pieces.”

Ourada agreed.

“We have come to find over the years that every piece in our Student Dance Project is somebody’s favorite,” she said. “That speaks to how art touches each person individually.”

Dance senior Kelli Griffin, of Kenosha, Wisconsin, has created a solo piece for the Student Dance Project.

“It is about how my past has grown me into the person that I’ve grown to be, and how it will affect my choices that I have for the future that lies ahead,” Griffin said. “I was really influenced on the growth that I’ve seen in myself and what my friends and family have told me, and I was also influenced by how nervous I am for my future the path it will set me on in life.”

This is her third year as a choreographer for the Student Dance Project.

“What I’ve gained from this is patience and being open,” she said. “Some things might not come out so you may have to change. This experience has also taught me that communication is key when it comes to collaborating with other artists. A final thing I’ve learned in this process was trusting in myself. As a choreographer, not everyone is going to be a fan of your work or the story you choose to tell, but as long as you’re happy with it, that’s what matters.”

Her advice to audience members is to “be open to the stories that are being told on stage, but also have a great time experiencing a great show with amazing work.”

Ourada hopes the students learn from the process.

“I hope that, in terms of the composition creation, they see that it’s really a difficult and satisfying process,” she said. “And that when they’ve made one piece, they are super excited to make the next one. I also think it’s so amazing for them to have the opportunity to see their piece fully produced with the help of the theatre school. There’s something so magical about seeing it in lights, and many of them have never really had the opportunity to have their own work presented in that way or to perform even under those conditions.”

Griffin said audiences should expect a range of work at the Student Dance Project created by talented choreographers and dancers.

“Audiences should expect dedicated and thought-out work, ranging from personal meaning behind the work to abstract,” she said. “It’s also a night of great dance with dancers who have amazing technique and passion for the work they are putting on the stage.”

Audiences will have a chance to enjoy these authentic and truthful dance pieces, Duong said.

“One thing I know for sure is that we, the choreographers, are doing this with all our hearts,” she said. “And hopefully, we will reach yours.”