Students have been spending late nights at the Noel Fine Arts Center this week as they made final preparations for Danstage, the biggest dance show of the spring semester.
Danstage showcases new pieces created by the Department of Theatre and Dance faculty members Joan Karlen, Michael Estanich, and Jeannie Hill as well as “Air,” a piece by Larry Keigwin of Keigwin + Company.
Students audition for the show in January and faculty members determine who will dance in the pieces. This year, there are 55 individual roles and 38 cast members.
Danstage provides students with an opportunity to work with faculty members outside of the classroom setting.
“The great pleasure of being in rehearsal with the students is that you can ask them to go to different places and really help them develop their artistry,” Estanich said. “I can ask them to go to places that might be a bit uncomfortable or challenging for them, but they are in a safe environment to practice those ideas.”
Students also had the opportunity to work with Jaclyn Walsh, a member of Keigwin + Company, who taught them “Air.” This production was taught to students during the company’s visit a few weeks ago.
Joan Karlen’s new work, “Interval,” was inspired by a sculpture named “Intervals” by Richard Serra that she saw when in New York.
“We started working with our dancers and made a whole story that is a loosely woven narrative and has to do with the subdividing of space and our response as humans to be either separated or included,” Karlen said.
John Strassburg also composed original music for Karlen’s work.
“He would write something and I would ask him to change it a little bit,” she said. “It was like Christmas. I would come in and have this new piece of music.”
Estanich also talked about the benefits of Danstage for the professors.
“It’s an opportunity for us as professors to work on our own research,” he said. “In my work in particular I’m interested in the combination of dance and theatre.”
Danstage will be held in Jenkins Theatre at 7:30 p.m. May 2 and 3, at 2:00 pm May 4, and at 7:30 May 7-9.
Karlen summed it up by saying, “I think it’s going to be a really beautifully diverse concert and our dancers are just really amazing.”