DancEnsemble — an auditioned contemporary dance company focused on student choreography — will be presenting their semester concert Nov. 8-9 in the Dance Studio Theater (169 RB). The concert features eight pieces by student choreographers and one full-cast number by Shannon McKechnie, a professor in the Department of Dance. Students have been rehearsing and co-creating their pieces since the beginning of the semester, a process that has been both rewarding and daunting.
“It’s always fun to watch the choreographers wrestle with the process and to watch the dancers start to embody the movement of different choreographers,” said Kate Monson, faculty director of dancEnsemble. “The challenging thing is that we do it so fast. It’s such a quick turnover, and it’s kind of shocking that we make it happen every semester.”
Despite the time crunch, the students relish the opportunity to create new work and delve into the choreographic craft. James Adamson, student president of dancEnsemble, has choreographed several times over his four semesters with the company, and it keeps pulling him back.
“DancEnsemble is one of the main outlets we have at BYU to choreograph, and the more I choreograph, the more I’m realizing that this is where my passion is,” said Adamson. “I love dancing, I love technique, but the ability to create and to interact with people, and to give people new experiences — dancers and audiences — is something I truly enjoy.”
Another key aspect of dancEnsemble is its unique choreographer-dancer dynamic. This requires students to learn how to work with and respect each other as artists.
“It’s not a faculty member or a guest artist coaching them, it’s peers coaching each other,” said Monson. “There is something very beneficial about trying to figure out how to appropriately coach your peer, and be the person in charge, while still maintaining good relationships with these people you go to class with. Hopefully that attitude carries on to when the students are in a professional setting, and they know how to be respectful of their dancers.”
Because dancEnsemble allows student choreographers such a great degree of creative freedom, the concert showcases a wide variety of styles, themes and stages of progress.
“This is student work. This is people trying to figure out their craft. We put on some excellent pieces of work, and they are very diverse,” Monson said. “You can’t come in expecting to see a certain thing, because in another five minutes you’ll see something totally different. There’s not a set vocabulary, there’s not a set theme. You have to walk in being willing to see variety.”
Tickets and Show Details
Performance Dates and Times: Nov. 8-9 | 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9 | 2:30 p.m.
Location: RB Studio Theater
Tickets: Available in person at the BYU HFAC or Marriott Center Ticket Office, by phone at (801) 422-2981 or online at byuarts.com