Dance Ensemble changes plans onstage

Keli Vitaioli

vitaioli@grinnell.edu

Dance Ensemble features students of all dance backgrounds who prerform pre-planned and improvised material.  Photo by Jun Taek Lee

Dance Ensemble features students of all dance backgrounds who prerform pre-planned and improvised material.
Photo by Jun Taek Lee

Backup plans and changes in direction come to life with Dance Ensemble/ACTivate’s fall performance. “Plan B” will explore the multiple interpretations that phrase can carry.

“We’re looking at Plan B as in when you have a plan and you think everything is going to go a certain way and you make a new one or people who have plans, but if that doesn’t work out they’ll do this,” said Celeste Miller, Theatre. “Also right now with the climate conference and being aware of the protest signs and that there is no ‘Planet B’—along with the name of the contraceptive. So I just think there are a lot of rich things in there and how our different personalities take to these detours.”

The show uses choreographed pieces along with improvised work. In the class, the performers are trained to respond to different prompts or different movements, and at the time of the performance they will use what fits best with that feeling or inspiration. The improvisation is partly necessary due to the unpredictable nature of audience participation in the show.

“This show is definitely more participatory on the part of the audience. There are a lot more elements of improvisation,” said Rosie Fuqua ’16. “We have set pieces we’ve worked on this semester, but there are quite a few improvisational pieces that we don’t know what [the show] will look like each night.”

The parts of the show that are choreographed are mainly developed by students. Miller provides the members with an idea or movement and they are then sent off to choreograph their own interpretations. The group rejoins and performs what they have while Miller selects pieces to incorporate into the larger show.

“The idea of dance ensemble is to collaborate and cooperate, to build a whole out of all the parts,” Miller said. “And that whole would not exist without the uniqueness of the members. Each semester ensemble has its own personality and flavor because it’s really about who’s in the room.”

With the variety of perspectives on Plan B, the show itself takes on a very exploratory nature. It provides the audience with the means to begin to question these different ideas and their own personal stances along with the role dance can have in sharing these messages.

“People can have discussions about hot topics such as global warming or refugees, and dance is just another platform to continue that conversation,” said Ivy Kuhn ’16. “I hope people walk away talking. It’s not necessarily about knowing what [the show] was about, but that it makes them ask questions.”

Dance Ensemble/ACTivate is open to dancers of all styles, actors and people with no previous dance experience. The class has open auditions at the beginning of the semester and anyone willing to meet the time commitment is welcome. This semester’s class includes 20 dancers from a variety of backgrounds.

“There is a family and community aspect to Dance Ensemble which is nice to have while you’re transitioning to college,” said Madison Marcus ’19. “You don’t have your parents there to ask, ‘Oh, how was your day?’ But Dance Ensemble does that for you. … At the beginning of every rehearsal we check in and say what’s going on in our lives, how we’re feeling physically and emotionally that day, so you get to know everyone really well and I think that community translates really well to the dances.”

The show is the culmination of what the ensemble members have been working on in class this fall and runs this Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the Flanagan Theatre.