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‘New Dances 2013’ showcases student talents

Chelsea Bennett, David Chapa, Steven Chapman, Taylor Hicks and Rique Hill lift Lauren Gates in an improv free-for-all during rehearsal for “Falling Together/Pushing Apart”. (Photo by Tim Brown)
Chelsea Bennett, David Chapa, Steven Chapman, Taylor Hicks and Rique Hill lift Lauren Gates in an improv free-for-all during rehearsal for “Falling Together/Pushing Apart”. (Photo by Tim Brown)

From the things that bring us together and pull us apart, to the damaging generalizations that can imprison us, the UAA department of theater and dance has something to say about the human experi­ence.

Eleven choreographers and 50 dancers from UAA and the Anchorage community plan to get their mes­sages cross in a series of dance performances next month in New Dances 2013.

“Watching people convey messag­es aesthetically really evokes a strong emotional connection,” senior theater major David Chapa said. Chapa is both a dancer and lighting designer. “With dance you rely solely on aesthetic.”

Auditions were held at the begin­ning of the semester and attracted about 80 dancers. Only 50 were chosen from that group.

The pieces vary in genre from hip-hop and mod­ern to jazz and tap dance, and groups contain any­where from 2 to 17 dancers.

Chapa will be performing in four productions, including one choreographed by guest artist Nicho­las Young.

Young is an internationally known performer, musician, choreographer and nine-year veteran of the Broadway hit “STOMP.” His piece is titled “Rob­ert Boyle.”

“Robert Boyle” is an examination of how sound waves are created and how the body interprets them.

In addition to Young’s piece, senior theater major Maisie Stewart choreographed a piece called, “Cubed Perception,” a commentary about how con­fining generalizations can be.

“It’s a good way for students to explore how art can connect us,” Stewart said. “Dance has always had a unique way of exploring … what’s going on.”

Continuing this exploration, professor Brian Jef­fery will focus on group dynamics in his new piece, “Falling Together Pushing Apart.”

Where Stewart and Jeffery explore many lives, term professor Katherine Kramer will pay tribute to one. Her piece, “via Brubeck” honors deceased Jazz pianist and composer Dave Brubeck.

“He passed away (last) December,” Kramer said, “This is a tribute to his genius.”

Stephanie Wonchala, Pulse Dance Company director, keeps up the exuberant pace of “via Brubeck” with “Enter the Heat.”

The exuberant mood is even­tually heightened to ease into a more existential place in a col­laboration between visual artist Ruby Kennel and local musician Evan Phillips.

Momentum Dance Collec­tive director Becky Kendall will bring a final dash of local flavor with her piece, entitled “The Closing Door,” which examines the space between waking and dreaming.

Student choreographers also showcase their work. Teresa Liu and Christopher Branche will present their piece, “Flight and Other Inspirations.” Creacy Bog­gess and Bonnie Moring will present their pieces, “Conflicts of Love” and “…by choice,” respectively.

“I’ve seen people brought to tears by movement,” Chapa said, “but sometimes (the performances) are just plain fun.”

New Dances 2013 runs from April 12-21 at the Main­stage Theatre in the Fine Arts building. Friday and Satur­day showings start at 8 p.m. and Sunday showing start at 6 p.m. Public admission is $15 and student admission is $12. Tickets are available at http://uaatix.com or 907-786-4TIX.

Written by Jacob Holley-Kline