‘Polished luminescence’ portrayed in New Dances 2018

Presented by the UAA Department of Theatre and Dance, the annual spring semester showcase of New Dances is back. This year’s showcase will feature five nights of performances April 4-8.

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Dance students Sienza Chandler and Isabella Saxe perform during the dress rehearsal for UAA Dance in Performance 2017 in the Fine Arts Building’s Harper Theater. Photo credit: James Evans

According to Marissa Citro, third year psychology major and a choreographer for New Dances, a theme of these performances usually emerges naturally, and this year is unique.

“This show feels very fun, light and full of energy,” Citro said. “This is my first show choreographing for UAA, and I challenged myself to create new movement out of my usual style. Most of the choreographers also challenged themselves to create their pieces in a way they do not normally.”

Seven choreographers and 30 performers came together to create New Dances 2018. Each choreographer brings in their own concept and works independently with a group of dancers throughout the semester, then shows their progress to the entire cast and crew in what is referred to as “in progress showing” before beginning technical rehearsals.

Marlee Mathews, elementary education major, dancer and choreographer for New Dances, feels that the 2018 performances are polished and well put together.

“We strive to let creativity flow in all the choreographers. This semester we have a high quality show that is portraying polished luminescence. Our dancers are clean and ready to perform, and most of the dance concepts are lighthearted,” Mathews said.

Dance has benefited Mathews since she was three years old, giving her a “home away from home” during her time at UAA.

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“Dance is beautiful to witness and embody. It heals people and can provide a way to communicate when words are not available,” Mathews said. “I moved to Alaska from Utah and because of New Dances and the dance program [at UAA], I now have an Alaskan family.”

Student choreographers rehearse a minimum of once a week, and the dance ensemble rehearses three times a week. The ensemble also works with a guest artist right before the show begins technical rehearsals. New Dances, and the fall dance show Dance in Production, are the only opportunities for UAA dancers to showcase the hard work they put in during the semester.

For Kristal Perez, sophomore international studies major and one of New Dances newest members, dance has been a form of expression since she was young.

“[Dance] provides a glance into another dimension. With dance, one gets to break that fourth wall with the audience to expand a message or simply trigger thoughts and discussion,” Perez said. “I love the adrenaline and the excitement that comes with showing our love to the public.”

Kimberly McGrath, junior biological sciences major and president of the dance club, is a cast member in three pieces of this semester’s production. Her positive experience as part of the dance department has improved her college experience in terms of creating healthy relationships and stress management mechanisms.

“[Dancing] gives me the outlet to express my feelings and struggles that come with college class stress in a healthy way,” McGrath said. “Being a part of the dance department has changed my college experience for the best because I have met friends that I will have for the rest of my life, and teachers that will continue to support and inspire me even after I graduate.”

The New Dances 2018 showcase will take place April 4 – 8. The hour and a half performances begin at 8 p.m. Wed – Sat, and 6 p.m. on Sunday. The shows are located in the Harper Studio or “Black Box,” Room 129 of the Fine Arts Building.

Tickets are $15 for general admission, and can be purchased through www.ArtsUAA.com.