From April 30 to May 2, St. Olaf Companydance put on its annual Spring Concert to showcase the hard work and talents of their dance department throughout the year. The styles and tones of the dances were all different, ranging from a more upbeat and fun swing, to very reflective and contemplative modern dances.
St. Olaf’s Companydance program is primarily modern dance based and is open to majors and non-majors alike. Casting was held in the fall. After casts were chosen, the dancers rehearsed all throughout the school year to perfect their pieces.
The show incorporated dances from Artist in Residence Anthony Roberts, Professor of Dance Janice Roberts, Assistant Professor of Dance Sherry Saterstrom, guest artist Karla Grotting and student works from Jacob John Borg ’17 and Nicole Volpe ’18. Cast members and choreographers worked all year to create and tweak their performances, and in some cases, these dances changed and evolved throughout the year.
Each dance had its own theme and message, with students working with their choreographers to create a dance that flowed as a group. The show started with an upbeat swing dance then moved to modern, a lyrical duet, a jazz influence piece and many other styles. With each dance, the audience was enthralled by the unique take on each style. Some dances elicited a more emotional response from members in the ensemble as well as the audience.
The show started with an upbeat swing dance that added a light and fun touch to the scene. Some dancers sat in audience seats and joined the performance as soon as the music started. The audience was suprised by the development at the begining of the show.
The second piece, “Threads,” was a culmination of student input and Anthony Robert’s choreography. The initial idea stemmed from a TED Talk called “Danger of a Single Story,” which grew and progressed into a larger story, incorporating the students’ experiences and lives. The piece had been crafted in two parts since the beginning of the school year to become a dance of many threads that all weaved in together.
A student-choreographed duet followed. The choreographer auditioned her piece a few weeks prior to the show, and was chosen to showcase her dance. The more lyrical dance told a story of two people torn away from each other, and the acceptance of their place in each other’s lives.
A dance choreographed by guest artist Grotting followed. The dynamic piece explored different styles from delicate to powerful, while highlighting relationship and friendships through each ones own experience.
The subsequent piece titled “Those Who Came” told a story from the first song to the last. The dance, featuring all women, was choreographed by Janice Roberts with creative inputs from the dancers. The atmosphere in the room became calm and content during the last song in which candles were brought out and the lights dimmed as the dance ended. It was an appropriate ending to a touching show.
The final student piece was choreographed and preformed by Borg. The piece titled “I” was choreographed as a reflection on the creator and his experience with dancing. Dance had always been a crucial part of his life, however it showed him finding a balance between himself as a dancer, and himself as a character within his dances.
The show ended with a lighter dance that incorporated New Orleans rhythms and eastern European instrumentation. In the piece, dancers found their own rhythm and ended the concert on a note of happiness and connection with others.
The dancers were happy with how the concert ended and all the hard work and effort put in throughout the school year. They enjoyed working with each faculty members and seeing their own unique styles shine through each piece.
“My favorite part was working though the dance together,” said Natalie Lovdal ’17, dancer in the piece “Threads.” “[Anthony Roberts’] work is so complex and intricate and interesting and I think I learned so much through the entire process. It made us think and gave us so much personal reflection as well as making us continue to ask questions. It was pretty great to be a part of.”
Photo Credit: ANDREW WILDER/MANITOU MESSENGER