Annual fall choreographers concert features student work, offers diverse dance set list

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Pacific University’s Autumn Choreographer’s Concert will feature the work of accomplished student choreographers who will present their new dances in the Tom Miles Theatre.

Students have created works for the concert, as well as Jennifer Camp, the dance department head, who, as the artistic director of the event, put the show together.

The dances include a diverse range of styles that include ballet, contemporary, jazz, hip-hop and improv.

The students in the show have been hard at work rehearsing these dances since two weeks after the school year started.

Training wise, all of the dancers in the show are required to be enrolled in technique classes. They practice at least three to four times a week and the show is a culmination of everything they’ve been working on so far in the semester.

Two of the concert’s performances are senior projects choreographed by two of Pacific’s dance majors. Senior Shaun Keylock choreographed a piece that revolves around binary divergence, exploring social constructions and examining how society forces labels on people.

“I’m interested in these relationships; an individual that diverges from these relationships, how that affects the individual, and the communities that they’re in,” said Keylock. “When people come to see a dance show, they’re not just coming to see a dance, they’re coming to see a work that deals with different issues.”

Senior Sarah Whitehead focused her choreography around the concept of lucid dreaming, which occurs when someone becomes aware that they are dreaming.

The narrative is centered through dance, focusing on a character that begins to have a nightmare while over time realizes that she’s dreaming. Whitehead had wanted to choreograph this since her sophomore year, drawing inspiration from stories that her friends told her about their experiences with lucid dreaming.

“I like to tell stories with my dances,” said Whitehead. “Choreographing is like having a child. You put so much effort, blood, sweat and tears into it and seeing it come alive on stage is the most amazing thing in the world.”

The senior choreographed performances will happen during the show, and the thesis writing and presentation will follow suit in the spring.

The dance major was created at Pacific two years ago, and Keylock, Whitehead and Deja Gustafson, who will present her choreography at a later time, will be the fourth, fifth and sixth students to graduate with a degree in the newly created major.

“I didn’t always think that dance was going to be a career for me,” Keylock stated. “but I know I’m going to continue with it for the rest of my life, whether it’d be as a choreographer or a teacher. That’s how I know it’s for me.”

The event also features a dance choreographed by freshman Brenna Calmer.

“I came into this school, and Jennifer told me that this show was student choreographed,” said Calmer. “As a whole, the dance program here has offered me a lot more opportunities than another school where I wouldn’t have had as much individual help. It’s like a family here.”

Other student choreographers include senior Olin Blackmore and junior Jassa Gunn. Guest artists include Kathleen Brown and Rachel Slater, a Portland choreographer who comes out to work with the students.

“Every semester we work with a guest choreographer, and it’s exciting to work with someone who’s already doing what you want to be doing,” said Keylock.

The students have also been working with costume designer Melissa Heller and lighting designer Tal Sanders.

“If you go, you won’t be bored,” said freshman Sienna Ballou. “People are going to walk out and talk about how interesting the pieces are.

Hopefully, more people will know that we have a dance program and be excited about it.”

The students in the show hope that their performances will inspire people to take dance classes, even if they aren’t majoring or minoring in dance.

The concert dates are Nov. 13, 14  and 15 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 for everyone.


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