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Saint Mary’s hosts annual dance showcase

Bridget Feeney | Thursday, February 14, 2013

Dancers will take to the stage tonight to present a series of choreographed ballets and movements in the opening performance of this year’s Dance Ensemble Workshop.

The College’s Program in Dance within the Departments of Communications Studies, Dance and Theatre sponsors the workshop, which will take place today through Saturday at the Moreau Center for Performing Arts Little Theatre. The theme for the 2013 Workshop is DanceSpeaks, which was chosen because it captures the way the dancers convey their own messages to the audience, Artistic Director and dance professor Laurie Lowry said.

“All art is a means of communication,” she said. “Dance represents non-verbal communication, but still offers a means of expressing ideas, feelings, joy, sadness and a full range of human emotions. As dancers, we speak through movement.”

The performance will feature students enrolled in various dance classes at the College and some students from Notre Dame. Alumna Jean Rogers, who graduated from the College in Decemberwith a dance minor, said she is eager to return to campus and perform in the show.

“I am in DanceSpeaks because I love to dance and have been involved in the dance program since my freshman year,” Rogers said. “I am performing in two pieces, ‘Say Something’ and ‘3M.'”

In addition to Rogers’ pieces, the performance will feature a variety of styles, music and choreography from both solo and group dances. Lowry said the audience can expect to see something new with each dancer.

“This performance offers many different pieces for curious people,” she said. “There are a variety of dance styles represented, including classical ballet in a Spanish style, contemporary ballet, Japanese ballet and various modern dance styles.”

In order to prepare for the program, Rogers and the other dancers auditioned for their spots early last semester. Lowry said the overall process of rehearsals, choreography and costuming has been “fairly smooth.”

“I have found this group of dancers very focused and professional throughout the working rehearsals,” she said. “They are very supportive of each other and the choreographers.”

Rogers agreed with Lowry that the preparation for DanceSpeaks has been rooted in the rehearsal process and learning how to work together as a group.

“It is all about rehearsing – rehearsing the piece itself, practicing hair and makeup, running through the pieces with our costumes on and working with the crew and the light designer to set the lights for each individual piece,” Rogers said. “It takes a lot of people to make a dance show successful and we have a great group.”

However, despite the months of preparation and planning, there was some uncertainty about the future of the performance when the Moreau Center for Performing Arts caught on fire Jan. 27, the second blaze to hit the building in less than three months. Originally, DanceSpeaks was scheduled to occur on O’Laughlin Stage, but when damages from the January fire made that impossible, Lowry and the dancers had to search and plan for a new venue.

“When the fire happened, we did not know where the performance would be or if the date might have to be changed,” she said. “Performing venues off campus were explored but in the end the theater and dance faculty were able to share the Little Theatre space, and we were able to keep the original date and adjust to a smaller theater.”

As a dancer, Rogers said the fire proved to be the biggest challenge for preparing for her dances.

“The stage in O’Laughlin is larger than the Little Theatre stage, and we have had to adjust some of the choreography and our spacing in order to accommodate the size of the stage in the Little Theatre,” she said. “Fortunately, it did not take too much time to adjust. Though the fire was challenging, we all were able to overcome and grow as a company.”

DanceSpeaks opens tonight and continues through Saturday. Each show begins at 7:30 p.m., with an additional matinee performance at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets cost $8 for students and $10 for faculty and staff. To purchase tickets, visit the Moreau Center’s website at moreaucenter.com or call 574-284-4626.