The Art of the Encounter

Students, guest, teachers choreograph latest dance show

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Senior Deniz Vega performs in dance choreographed by Sara Walls. 

When junior Terrance Carson was chosen to create a dance for the fall show, he asked his dance classmates how they were feeling.

“At that time it was like we were all really mad about school and hated school, so I went with that,” Carson said.

Carson said one of the things he likes about a student-directed piece is that everyone can contribute even if they are not the choreographer. He started out with the steps students learned throughout the class while senior Sara Walls started with music, and they began to create a dance.

“The one that I choreographed was specifically for everyone in my grade level,” Carson said. “It’s pretty much how all of us started out in high school and learned how to change our aspect about life and just having to rebel against certain things.”

The dance department performed its latest show, “The Art of the Encounter,” Nov. 1. The theme of the show was how different life experiences and encounters with people, things or ideas can change lives.

Walls’ choreography from the student-directed show last year was chosen by dance teachers Rachael Murray and Brazie Adamez to be in the fall show this year.

“It’s a lot about human struggle: how we relate to each other, how we carry those struggles, and how that causes us to create certain types of relationships, and how those relationships have us reacting with other people,” Walls said. “I think the story that it tells is a lot about encountering people. The word encounter has to do with meeting people and dealing with how they react to you. I think that ties in really well with how my dance is telling a story and what that story is.”

The story she tells through dance evolves first from a feeling, she said.

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Juniors Meg Willimont and Rose Morgan partner in Sara Walls’ dance. 

“Usually I will hear a song or have an idea,” Walls said. “Usually it will have to do with a song. That’s kind of backward for a lot of choreographers. They will have an idea and they will be like, ‘This music works well.’ I will have a song that I really like or I will have an idea that expresses what I want from the song, and they will just come together. From there I start working. I’ll just start with expressing how I’m feeling through the dance and tell my story that way.”

The show features every style of dance except ballet. In addition to the students who helped choreograph dances for the show, the dance instructors and a guest choreographer were also driving creative forces.

“There is a diversity of dance styles in this concert,” Murray said before the show. “We have rhythmic tap of course, contemporary dance, we have a Latin modern style. I think Mrs. Adamez’s is a country contemporary. So it’s going to be a very diverse program.”

Senior Marilyn Connelly had the opportunity to work with guest choreographer Brenna Kuhn in the tap dance. Students from any of the majors classes could choose if they wanted to be in the number, which the dancers rehearsed before school.

“With a guest choreographer, you don’t know them as well,” Connelly said. “They are definitely a wide range of personalities that you get. You can do different things with the guest choreographers that you can’t really with the teachers. They don’t know anything about you, so sometimes they see something in you that would make you get a solo in their piece where you wouldn’t really with one of our teachers. It’s just really nice to see different types of choreography and different styles.”

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