Dance Concert Opens Friday

Artists are not the same breed. I was reminded and grateful of this as I sat down with my old friend, Hope Stebbins, to discuss the upcoming dance concert. A dance enthusiast, her face shone as she described movements and themes from the dance pieces to me, a dance-incompetent musician.

Regardless of my lack of dance knowledge, I have never missed a biannual dance concert at Eastern. Why, you ask, would I choose to go to a dance concert if I claim ignorance to the process? Simply, dance, like all other art, draws people to it when it is well done. You don’t always have to know why it’s good to appreciate its beauty.

We start our conversation by discussing the overarching theme for the show. It is called “Regeneration,” which Hope describes as “circling around and looking back at something new.” Hope admits that due to the continuing work on the dances, she can only truly speak for those she is in, for she hasn’t fully experienced the others. However, with this general sketch of the dances, you, dear reader, will have no choice but to come and experience them for yourself.

Hannah Brumbach, a junior dance major, choreographed a dance for 4 people about, in Stebbins’ words, “the way that, through difficulty and hardship, hope remains.” Jordan Bonney will perform a tap dance solo. Katie Green and Megan Schultz will do a Graham-style duet (named for its originator, pioneer of modern dance Martha Graham), which Hope explains as “built off of movement styles,” particularly, “contraction and release.” Allison Burden choreographed a group dance, which will make its debut at the concert. Eastern also welcomes a piece by guest choreographer Melissa Chisena.

Hope also choreographed her very own work entitled “The old story has begun…” which she passionately describes as “about living in your life: it seems relatively simple and ordinary, but you can look at it and see the extraordinary within it.” The inspiration for her theme was a quote of Willa Cather’s novel, O Pioneers: “Isn’t it queer: there are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.”

As for the process behind the choreography, Hope explains that she combined thematic ideas and motifs to create her masterpiece. The themes of moving outside the self and “feeling trapped in the ordinary” were her starting ideas. From there, she added motifs: growing leg movements and a “box” formed by placing her hands on either side of your body.

Hope will also join a group of 9 dancers to perform a piece choreographed by dance professor Stephen Welsh. She remarks it is “about seeing the world as more expansive than you had seen it before; looking at the world in different ways, and new paths of life.” Hope describes the cosmic symbolism as most evident in the “floor patterns that expand and contract.” The effort, like many dance projects prior to it, is a combining of vision, in which the choreographer allows the dancers to have input into the movements and feel of the piece.

When urged to remark about how she has grown through this semester’s effort, Hope thoughtfully responds that her work as an artist largely transfers to her work as a person: “I grow to appreciate the difficulty in the process and learn to work through challenges in choreography…working even when I’m tired.” She sees profound parallelism between dance and life, naming the need to “push through and rely on other people in the dance, to feed off of their energy.” We end our conversation with the impetus for the average student to come to the show. Hope exclaims, “It’s going to be a good show, and IT’S NOT TOO LONG!” As many of us grieve the transitions of Eastern University, we owe it to the dance department to support their work. So, take a break from your studies to enjoy “Regeneration”: Fri., Dec. 4 and Sat., Dec. 5 at 8 pm and Sun., Dec. 6 at 3 pm.

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