On a warm night in September 2014, I found myself fumbling over my feet in the Memorial 300 dance studio at auditions for the 2015 Dancescape. How did I get here?
The last time I danced in a studio setting was in third grade. Back then, I loved performing—I loved the outfits, the music and the movement. I loved the feeling of being in a spotlight (though you can imagine, the third grade dancing probably involved a lot of jumping around and no actual elegant spinning).
I went to a Dancescape performance my freshmen year at WSU and I was so impressed. At the time, I thought maybe I’d try out for it next year. However, it wasn’t until my junior year that I decided to go for it. I wanted this year to be different, and Dancescape seemed like a perfect opportunity for something new.
I’ve always gotten compliments from people for my dancing skills but let me tell you, when I walked into the studio for tryouts in early September, I did not feel confident at all. It was obvious some of the girls trying out had had years of studio practice as they warmed up with spins that made me dizzy. I honestly can’t remember the last time I felt so out of my element.
As far as the actual process of trying out for Dancescape, here’s how it goes: There are student choreographers and a few faculty choreographers. Each choreographer gets 15 minutes to teach an eight-count of their choreography. You learn the moves as a large group and then break off to perform what you learned in smaller groups so the choreographers can get a closer look at you individually.
The great part about trying out for Dancescape is that some choreographers have dances that are ballet and some dances are more contemporary. You can pick and choose which ones you try out for. I found I was more comfortable with modern dance movements, so those were the ones I tried out for.
The tryout process takes two nights. At the end of this process, I found out I’d made it into two dances, both of which were modern/contemporary. I was excited and nervous but glad that I had stuck with it.
The Production Process
Each Dancescape piece meets for two hours once a week from September to the actual performance in February. In early November, we do a “first-showing” of our dances to everyone in Dancescape, At each showing, the choreographer receives feedback, and because of this, dances go through many revisions and often end up completely different from the original steps we’d learned.
This semester we’ve been having lots of all-cast rehearsals. So instead of rehearsing as separate dances, we have become more of a cohesive show. I actually really like this because it’s so inspiring to see what other choreographers have come up with.
Although I’d done a little bit of choreographing myself for High School Pops concerts, I learned so much about the creative process of making a dance through involvement in Dancescape. A lot of what I learned in the first couple rehearsals didn’t make it into the final dance. Plus in one dance, we got to be an active participant in the creative process, creating our own movements from time to time.
I also learned the choreographer always has a specific meaning and vision behind their dance. One dance I’m in takes all its inspiration from ocean creatures (you’ll just have to go see Dancescape Feb. 12-14 to see what I mean!).
Dancescape 2015 Sneak Peek
I might be a little biased, but this years Dancescape is going to be off the chain (literally—one of the pieces has the dancers dancing with chains. I’m not kidding–it’s super cool). This years Dancescape includes exciting tribal-inspired movement, fun lights, playing with beautiful fabrics and even a piece with a live choir accompanying them.
It’s going to be seriously wonderful and I highly recommend that everyone come!
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