The Modern Dance Student Concert is Visually Captivating and Powerful


Dancers rehearse “Landscape,” by Hailey Caminiti, for the Modern Dance Student Concert. Courtesy University of Utah School of Dance.

By Hannah Keating, Arts Editor


There is something incredibly important about student-led work. It’s a culmination of all the training in an arts degree — proving an ability to not only do the work that someone hands to you, but to develop and shape your own creations. With the help of fine arts funding grants and the College of Fine Arts, several departments have put on productions of their own this semester. The U’s Modern Dance program is no exception. Their Student Concert Committee recently presented the talents of seven choreographers and several dozen dance students in their spring 2019 modern dance concert.

The concert was presented in the intimate Room 240 of the Marriott Center for Dance, the curtains drawn along its sides, broken up by striking side lights and a scrim while ethereal projections shone next to rows of raked audience seating. The setting served as a reminder of the incredible sense of play and passion that dance programs encourage in their students.

Dancers rehearse “We’re Not a Pop Band,” by Rebecca Johnson, for the Modern Dance Student Concert. Courtesy University of Utah School of Dance.

One of the most captivating pieces of the concert was “Speak See Hear,” choreographed by Lauren Broadbent and performed by herself, Emma Lester and Sabrina Rice. Over several pulsing songs, Broadbent explores the concept of the three wise monkeys who represent the idea of speak no evil, see no evil and hear no evil. Their piece demonstrated such a wide range of movement — the three dancers started seated at the table, moving only their arms in sharp rhythm, and they built up to athletic combinations, characterized by the tension of a tug-of-war. The three acted as separate limbs of one body, using both the connecting parallels in the dance and the divergent identities of the characters to their advantage.

As a fully student-led and grant-funded production, the work and professionalism on the whole was astounding. With an auction outside the doors and a meet-and-greet after the concert, it was evident the committee did their best to provide a solid platform for student work. One audience complaint, however, was the need to stop the flow of the performance after every number to change the gels in the side-lights. In the end, the new and intense colors contributed to each piece beautifully, but the technical delay allowed time for the audience to disconnect and open their phones again, their faces glowing in the dim space.

Dancers rehearse “Landscape,” by Hailey Caminiti, for the Modern Dance Student Concert. Courtesy University of Utah School of Dance.

During each number, however, the dancers used the energy of a supportive audience to carry some of their most creative ideas. A crowd favorite was “Inside the Minds of Nat and Alli,” choreographed by the fore-named Natalie Anderson and Alli Ball. When the lights came up, the duo held the audience in the awkward anticipation of an empty stage left too long vacant before, with the casual and normal banter of two chatty friends, playfully scooting their chairs from the house seats into the spotlight. From there, the two acted as an absurdist accompaniment to the vibrant expression of dancers Shaylin Bu and Hayli Henretty, who represented the inner thoughts of Nat and Alli in neon blue and pink. This piece was surprising and freeing, and it exemplified everything that live performance is about — unreplicable personality and touching passion.  

The concert also featured a showing of a Screendance film, choreographed and directed by Alicia Ross. Her rugged and soulful “Peace Will Come,” featuring dancer Amy Cox, drew on the elements of gorgeous videography and the setting of a barren landscape as perfect parallels to the movement. With Screendance offered as a new program at the U because of the growing popularity of dance filmmaking in the industry, Ross’s work was new and interesting in the way that it presented something uniquely raw and visually stunning.

The Student Concert Committee did impressive work with their programming. All of the pieces presented were incredibly intimate, all the dancers were deeply connected to their work and all of the choreographers were supported by their program to share the most personal pieces of their creative expression.

[email protected]