It takes a lot of courage to perform something you’ve poured your heart and soul into out for all the world to see. That’s what 15 students from the U’s Department of Ballet will be doing this weekend in their show “Fearless.”
In years past, student choreography has been presented at two separate “Showcase” performances in October and February. This year, the featured choreographers have been a part of a semester-long class, and this show brings together all of their hard work. The students helped design lighting, chose costumes, critiqued each other and, of course, created the original pieces premiering at the performance on their fellow dancers.
The title of the show was chosen as the class unfolded and students began their choreography. Many of the pieces featured themes of strength and courage, which inspired the class to name their performance “Fearless.” It is interesting to view the show with this concept in mind. Many of the pieces portray daring, power and emotion with choices like sharp kicks, strong leaps and fierce stares at the audience, which certainly fits the idea of being fearless. Other pieces present a different take on the theme, with the joyous abandon of spins, light jumps and bright movements illustrating the dancers’ lack of fear. One piece in particular that illustrates the theme was choreographed by Chloe Holzman. It starts with voices whispering “face it, it’s hopeless” before exploding into fast, fierce motion as the dancers strive to overcome their fears.
The best thing about watching student choreography is the sheer variety that comes to light over the course of the program. Contemporary or classical, pas de deux or large group, dramatic or relaxed — the options are endless. This year’s sampling displays the wide-ranging interests of the student choreographers.
Music is one of the first things choreographers consider when preparing to create a piece. The music choices in “Fearless” range from operatic arias to brassy, jazzy numbers. The last piece in the show uses a lively Celtic-influenced jig that is sure to bring a smile to the audience.
Lighting isn’t part of the choreographic process until later in the game, but it’s integral to the mood and presentation of a piece. “Fearless” features a lot of spectacular lighting, but one interesting tendency in the performance was how dark many of the pieces were. Silhouetted dancers, dim lights and single spotlights were the order of the day, taking the focus off of the faces of the individual dancers and emphasizing the choreography as a whole. Many of these darker-lit performances also featured dancers wearing black and other dark colors. By contrast, the more carefree and happy pieces had bright lights and colorful costumes. The combination of costume and lighting makes for a delightful visual spectacle.
Before the show begins, an announcement shares the goals of the student choreographers: to illustrate the power of taking risks, rising to a challenge and accepting vulnerabilities. They invite the audience to learn and grow with the dancers and choreographers throughout the performance. This message permeates the performance. While some are better than others, all of the pieces in “Fearless” bring something worth watching to the stage.
“Fearless” will show at the Marriott Center for Dance at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 3, and 7 p.m. on Friday Dec. 4 and Saturday Dec. 5, with an additional 2 p.m. matinee on Dec. 5. Tickets are free with a UCard.