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Got Dance? workshop showcases talent

Sarah Gunn | Thursday, February 11, 2010

Got Dance? — a dance workshop featuring 15 students from Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame — will be running Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in O’Laughlin Auditorium on Saint Mary’s campus.

Indi Dieckgrafe, professor of Dance at the College, hails the show as the long anticipated reward of “demanding dance.”

“I don’t know if people understand how involved this process is,” Dieckgrafe said of the preparation and development of the show.

“Got Dance?” is the culmination of months of work on the part of the Saint Mary’s Dance Ensemble, faculty and many other crew members. The group has been developing the show since the second week of classes of the fall semester. Dieckgrafe said the 15 members are the “the cream of the crop.”

The dancers in the Ensemble have collaborated with professors to create the pieces for the show.

“We work from the ground up, we have to craft it,” Dieckgrafe said.

Some pieces are solely student choreographed. “Got Dance” will display an “eclectic, broad spectrum” of dance styles, including tap dance, modern dance, traditional Chinese dance and classical ballet, Dieckgrafe said.

Dieckgrafe said she believes even though the collaborative effort put forth by the students and faculty is stressful, “the educational process has been great.”

“We have to collect and look at what student pieces to bring in, and it shows the time and dedication that the students have put in,” she said. “They have been able to handle demanding schedules, tested their time management skills and tested their health by always being prepared to meet the demands of dance.”

Jingjiu Guan, a junior at Saint Mary’s, agreed that developing the show can be a challenge.
“The real challenge is actually how to balance dance with other academic classes and other extracurricular activities because dance takes a lot of time,” Guan said.
Guan said she spends hours a week working on dance.

“Since I am in five pieces, I am in rehearsals for about six to seven hours a week,” Guan said. “Other than that, I also take both intermediate and advanced ballet, pointe, jazz and some ballet classes off campus. I enjoy dancing, so I really enjoy the rehearsals and classes.”

In the show, Guan will perform a traditional Chinese piece called “Swan Dance.”
“I have been learning Chinese dance since I was in kindergarten because I am from China,” Guan said. 

According to Guan, studying abroad in France made her fall in love with ballet, and her time at the College has allowed her to embrace other forms of dance.

Saint Mary’s junior Katie Brown has also put a lot of time into dancing at Saint Mary’s.  Brown recognizes the work non-dancers have contributed to the performance.

“The show takes a lot of planning between getting a cast and crew together as well as figuring out all the technical features of the show,” Brown said. “This year for the concert, we have a number of props and set details that had to be discussed before creating.”

Personally, Brown said she spends anywhere from six to 18 hours per week in the studio.  “This is a learning process,” Brown said. “The dances vary in style and technique each year. It’s always nice not just for the dancers but for the audience to be exposed to these differences to learn more about the art of dance.”

Brown agreed with Dieckgrafe — believing the experience of collaboration can be difficult, but the synergy has very positive effects. 

“Working with the students is a wonderful experience,” Brown said. “Just like in classes, we can easily learn from one another during rehearsals. With all the hard work and the demands that come with the dance show, it is rewarding.”

Brown said it is nice to see the rehearsal time translated onto the stage.

“To dance on stage and to make something that was once an idea into a living truth is amazing,” Brown said. “We are not just moving on stage, we — between the dancers, lighting designers, costume crew and the rest of the dance show crew — are creating art.”