Ensemble welcomes guest choreographers

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This year Dance Works will be leading students, professors and outside professional choreographers for the Spring show’s 13th annual performance.

Pacific Dance Ensemble, PDE, is comprised of 23 student dancers who will be dancing to the works of feature choreographers, Marlayna Locklear from Dayton Contemporary Dance Company located in Ohio; Thorey Mountain, the former head of the jazz program in association with Birmingham Royal Ballet in the United Kingdom, Pacific University Director of Dance Jennifer Camp and Instructors of Dance Mary Hunt and James Healy.

There will also be pieces from four student choreographers, senior Jassa Gunn, junior Taylor Baker, sophomore Brenna Calmer and sophomore Jesus Contreras.

“We all come from different places and so what you see on the stage is going to be very different from [Healy] to [Hunt] to myself to [Locklear],” said Camp. “So we are bringing our personal styles into the work and sharing with our students.”

By bringing in outside choreographers, PDE is able to offer its students a wide variety of lessons, skills and styles that are very useful to dance students.

“This year we have two featured artists in the spring concert which is really great,” said Camp. “It’s always about the students and showcasing the students [and] we are bringing in a guest artist to work with them.”

The students have been working since January to prepare for the upcoming show. They started when featured choreographer Locklear arrived, and although they only had one week to work with her, they put plenty of time into her choreography.

“[Locklear] came in January while the students were on break and students worked from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with her,” said Camp. “We will be presenting her work.”

The second featured artist is bringing an interesting change to the upcoming show. Locklear, who is from England, is bringing a classical jazz piece, “Getting Through the Blitz” that will tackle getting through daily life in England in WWII and, according to Camp, it will be the first time that the students will be dancing in character shoes, which is not something that they typically dance in.

Although the jazz piece is the only classical piece in the concert, Camp emphasized the importance of having a diverse and wide range of pieces for the concert. She also emphasized the importance of collaboration that went into creating this event which helped make the show.

“I think the quality of the work that we present, every year just keeps going higher and higher and the commitment and the dedication from the students, and not just the students but the choreographers as well,” said Camp. “It’s not just the dance, [Costume Designer] Melissa Heller and [Technical Director] Tal Sanders and so this who collaborative enterprise is putting it on and the quality of it is what people should be excited about.”

Dance Works XIII runs Thursday, April 21 through Saturday, April 23. Shows will be at 7:30 p.m. each night with a 2 p.m. matinee showing on Saturday.


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