Dancers move through isolation

By Sarah Custen, Red Pulse Writer

Cressa Perloff, a senior in the modern dance department, hit the ground running this semester. She had an audition on the first day of school followed by two weeks of rehearsals (three hours per day, plus four hours on Saturday) with internationally-traveled guest choreographer Gabri Christa. Her schedule is so packed that Perloff hasn’t had time for other activities she loves, like swimming and yoga.

But, she said, “I honestly find more balance in my life with a busy lifestyle and I find that I get better at dancing faster. It’s really just a matter of creating an environment that makes you happy.”

Perloff is performing Christa’s piece in the U Performing Dance Company’s fall concert. The concert ran last weekend and continues this weekend, featuring student dancers and works by guest choreographers and professors.

The first piece, “Somewhere In Between,” choreographed by Charlotte Boye-Christensen, is a harsh and contained landscape with eight women moving sometimes together and often alone. This concept of aloneness and togetherness is explored throughout the entire concert.

The next piece, “This Earth Still Needs our Footsteps,” was choreographed by Christa, who visited campus for the first two weeks of this semester to work with the dancers. “This Earth” is a wonderfully quirky, jazzy piece that incorporates Afro-Caribbean movement and visual technology via a live-feed camera set up at the corner of the stage. Perloff enjoyed the choreographer’s different perspective. “Gabri has a number of influences that we don’t have here,” she said.

Following Christa’s piece was “Mortal Coil,” choreographed by Eric Handman, a professor in the U’s Modern Dance department. The program describes this piece as “a dose of adrenalized existentialism inspired by the idea that being fully alive reveals our need for other people. The dancers twist into and out of their own private spheres8212;sometimes passionately, sometimes tenderly8212;portraying a wide scope of human interaction.”

The concert’s final piece, “Alone in a Crowd,” echoes “Somewhere In Between” with its all female cast and barren landscape. Abby Fiat, the choreographer and a modern dance professor, said she used this piece to tackle issues of “what it feels like to be alone in a crowd, what it feels like to be connected to other people, to form community.”

Fiat said she wanted each dancer’s strengths and style to come across to the audience in the movement.

“Each of them has their own individual voice,” she said. “I think they did beautifully, in terms of their full empowerment.”

Fiat said she’s honored to work with such dedicated and talented students and thinks that they have the capacity as artists to move into professional dancing. “They bring their entire selves to the movement, and that’s one of the requisites for professional dancers,” she said. “They’re not getting paid for this, but the level of their artistry is inspiring, for me.”

Perloff said recognition from faculty is one of the perks of performing with the company.

“This was the first time for a lot of us seniors to get noticed in a piece,” she said. Even the dizzying rehearsal schedule was worth it. “When I don’t have rigorous rehearsals, it’s harder for me. When I have them, it’s like I’m really living a life of dance.”

The company’s Fall Dance concert continues Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Marriot Center for Dance on campus. Tickets are $7 for U students, faculty and staff and $10 for general admission.

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