Student dancer appreciates the artistic freedom at UAA

UAA student Chandler Noyes doesn’t remember this story, but his mother swears it’s true. When he was 3 years old and living in Fairbanks, Noyes attended a dance show with his mother. After the show ended, the young Noyes proclaimed that he would be a dancer when he grew up. He then proceeded to the lobby where he commenced dancing and jumping around. Eighteen years later, Noyes is still pursuing that dream. He has studied dance intensively since his mid-teens at several different schools, and this year was asked to perform in “Mobius,” the annual dance concert put on by the Anchorage Dance Theater.

In spite of the youthful declaration reported by Noyes’ mother, Noyes focused mainly on singing until he reached 15. The Ririe Woodbury Dance Company, a prominent group of dancers, came to Fairbanks and rekindled the teenager’s interest in dance. Noyes had limited opportunities in Fairbanks, however. Fortunately, a fateful day of playing hooky set him on a path that would lead him to many exciting places.

One day during his sophomore year of high school, Noyes skipped class and was hanging out around the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus when he bumped into a friend. He expressed his dissatisfaction with the Fairbanks artistic scene, and his friend suggested he attend Walnut Hill, an arts school in Natick, Mass. Noyes already liked the East Coast, and saw in Walnut Hill the opportunity to get a strong foundation in ballet, which he knew would serve him well in the dance world.

“I came out of the woods in Fairbanks and into this extremely professional environment full of amazing people,” Noyes said of his arrival at Walnut Hill.

After spending his junior and senior years at Walnut Hill, Noyes began attending Ohio State University. There he had the opportunity to work with Meredith Monk, a famous choreographer and teacher. Her avant-garde style and incorporation of vocalization and other disparate elements had a strong influence on Noyes’ artistic development. It was there his mind was opened to the many possibilities afforded by modern dance.

Noyes eventually enrolled at UAA, and he is very happy to be a part of the dance department.

“At most universities, the student works tend to imitate the faculty works and there is very little artistic freedom. The reason I’ve stayed at this university is that Brian (Jeffery) encourages us to develop our own sensibilities as artists,” Noyes said, referring to a dance department instructor.

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Noyes was thrilled at being approached to perform in “Mobius.” He described the environment as very professional and enjoyed working with Courtland Weaver, ADT’s associate director.

“It was also great to get back into doing ballet. Ballet is what initially attracted me to dance, and although my dance studies have gone in a more contemporary direction ballet remains close to my heart,” Noyes said.

Currently, Noyes is working on the UAA Dance Ensemble’s spring show titled “New Dances.” The show is primarily as student showcase, featuring works created by members of the ensemble. There will also be three works by professional choreographers. Brian Jeffery, Katherine Kramer and a Brazilian group called “Valerian” have all contributed to the show.

In addition to performing in “New Dances,” Noyes has choreographed a piece entitled “A Memo From the 20th Century.” In the piece, Noyes explores the ways in which technology has affected humanity in the previous century.

“I am interested in the connection between then and now and if there are any lessons we can learn from what happened during the 1900s,” Noyes said.


“New Dances” will run during the weekends of April 15 and April 22. Tickets cost $8-10 and can be reserved by calling 786-4TIX.