photo composite of two dance productions

This in an overlap of the two final images in the piece “Ode to Swimme” choreographed by Jacqueline Paulsen. Photo courtesy of Doug Sundin.


Upon entering Winona State University as a freshman two and a half years ago, I never suspected that I might get involved with the Theater and Dance department. Actually, I never thought I’d be in a dance performance period (unless you count the one I did in third grade with the cute yellow tutu).

But here I am, post-Dancescape after nearly six months of sweaty rehearsals and the remnants of last night’s stage makeup still under my eyes.

Although I have played guitar and sang for people many times without getting nervous, I’ll be honest, I was pretty nervous on opening night. But as the first three notes of the song “Spacedrum” went off and the hot lights went up, all the nerves faded. It was just my fellow dancers, the choreography and me.

I was in the piece “Mindswarm,” choreographed by WSU Senior Pedro Lander, and “Ode to Swimme,” choreographed by faculty Jacqueline MarkevitchPaulsen.

dancers caught in motion

The piece “Mindswarm” was about being unable to silence all the voices in your head. Photo Credit: Pedro Lander

I was also really nervous to show my friends and family what I’d been working on for the past six months. Since I haven’t been a long-term dancer, they didn’t know what to expect. Both the pieces I was in were very modern and nontraditional, but it seemed all my friends and family loved it.

To say that Dancescape was just a rewarding experience for me would be a bit of an understatement.

Not only did I meet some of the most kind and welcoming people in our Dance department, but the studio also became a safe space for me where I could work out personal issues, anger or sadness through movement. I’ve heard of the healing powers of dance before but sheesh—I had no idea how effective it could be.

Working with my fellow dancers was an inspiring experience. There’s just something about looking into my friend’s eyes as we dance together that makes us feel like a true team, devoted to the piece and devoted to each other.

A lot of the choreography was shaped collaboratively between choreographer and cast, so it was exciting to be a part of the whole creative process.

Over the past four days, I’ve heard the same review from everyone: this year was the best Dancescape they’ve ever seen. I feel so proud to be part of such a creative, collaborative and loving group of people and even more proud to be part of a show that left impressions on many.

I think over the coming months, I’ll miss the Memorial 300 studio, the walls of mirrors, the soreness of dancing on the black floor in bare feet and the way dance allows me to throw both my mind and body into something freeing and wonderful.

Dancescape was a terrifyingly new experience that pushed me about ten paces out of my comfort zone—but it was so rewarding for the very same reasons.