If there is one thing I love most in life, it’s dance. The feeling of getting lost in a piece of music and letting my body roam freely is like no other, not to mention the rush of performing in front of an audience.


As a dance minor and someone who greatly appreciates live dance performances, I couldn’t be happier about the 30th year anniversary of Dancescape here at Winona State. This milestone is definitely one to be celebrated, as the annual event provides a powerful creative outlet for many of our Warriors (myself included!).


Performances will run Feb. 13 – 15 at 7:30 p.m in the Performing Arts Center’s main stage. 


Dancescape will feature a range of different dances, and many people a part of the production are excited for it and what it will bring to WSU.


Photo by Natalie Tyler Photography


Gretchen Cohenhour, the head of the dance department, said this is her 31st year at WSU after starting the dance minor program. It’s been an inspiration for her to see the hunger all the students have for dance. There has been an evolution with the growth of students through the past years and each year has been reflective of the particular time period. 


The Dancescape performances reveal what’s relevant today, including recognizing issues or those that are coming out “under the surface.” Cohenhour is proud of the accomplishments students have made and how hard they have worked on the production. Dancescape is welcoming to anyone who wants to audition, including community members.


Photo by Natalie Tyler Photography


Third-year student Delaney Stafford said, “My first time being in Dancescape was last year. I was new to Winona State, and I declared a dance minor. It had been two years since I performed on stage, so it gave me another opportunity to perform.”


Photo by Natalie Tyler Photography


Here is what some others students are saying about this year’s Dancescape:


“I wanted to be a light designer because it’s a much different kind of art. It’s about making sure the dancers are seen and that movement is shown through the light. That’s not something I do ever outside of Dancescape, so it’s always a good opportunity to play around with,” said fifth-year student Cameron Lornston.


Peggy Sannerud, stage and production manager, said dance is an abstract art and “so is lighting design.” Both use a lot of the same vocabulary: tempo, rhythm, crescendo and shift. Dancescape allows performers to explore different colors and movements. 


“I am lighting Brooke Smiley’s piece ‘Seeing Difference,’ which is the mask work, and also Danielle Ricci’s piece ‘Takin’ 5.’ Both are beautiful pieces with different moods and intentions,” Sannerud said.


Photo by Natalie Tyler Photography


Some students, like Stafford, dance and choreograph. “My solo is called ‘Once the Dayflower Blooms.’ A dayflower is an invasive species in Minnesota. It’s this strong and beautiful plant, but it blooms all on one day. Then the plant itself sticks around for a long time. I got my title and inspiration from that.”


Other students, like Linna, are in multiple dance performances. “I am in five pieces,” she said, “but I think there are a lot of ways the choreographers are expressing themselves this year. You see a lot of different parts in them and their dancers.”


So, what can the audience take away from Dancescape this year and the 30th anniversary?


“It exposes you to a different kind of fine art,” Lornston said. “I don’t think many people go and see dance productions specifically very often. It’s a good entry-level experience for someone. It’s a good ‘get your toes in the water’ sort of thing.”


Stafford agrees and says it’s a very “diverse” show this year. It will reveal our community characters and will bring in a new world of dance for Winona.


Photo by Natalie Tyler Photography


Show some love to our student dancers and choreographers in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, and make sure to check out one of the three performances this week!



(P.S. You can buy your ticket online or at the Box Office. Tickets are $12 to the public and $6 for WSU students, so make sure to bring your Warrior ID!)


– Natalie Tyler ’21