The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Dance Activism

By Roni Finkelstein

With the introduction of a new director last semester, the Grinnell College Dance Ensemble is morphing into a new and more inclusive program. In integrating movers of all sorts, new director Celeste Miller hopes to explore a new method of performance art.

“I’ve always been interested in dancers from different backgrounds as well as people who come from different movement backgrounds, whether that’s marshal arts or skateboarding,” Miller said. “[I want to] incorporate those into the sometimes-frightening word of dance.”

The new sub-group of dance ensemble, entitled Activate, will offer two options for students. Participants can choose to participate in rehearsals four days a week and earn two credits or participate two days a week for one credit depending on their availability and interest.

Last semester the ensemble’s show, “Traditions and Encounters,” incorporated other student movement groups, including IndepenDANCE and Baile! With Activate, Miller hopes to bring an even larger array of students together for regular rehearsals. The final product will be the department’s spring concert.  With added diversity in both choreography and performers, the concert will prove to be a new experience for viewers.

The working title for the show is “Now You See Me,” and will be a cohesive blend of the choreographers’ work. Instead of separate pieces, the movers will work on a single event that will run from start to finish.

“We hope to really disrupt the notion of how an event happens in theater,” Miller said. “Each of the choreographers will be creating pieces but then I will work as director to weave it together so it all becomes one [show] instead of a series of pieces.”

The theme of the spring concert will be dance as political action. Kristen Moreland ’12, Caitlyn Baylor ’12, Meghan Baylor ’12, and Emma O’Polka ’12, are working with Miller on a MAP concerning the political nature of dance.

“Generally, we’re trying to explore dance as a tool for activism and its relation to activism. Can it be used as tool and is it political in itself? We’re trying to answer those questions,” Moreland said. “I think that because it’ll be a group exploration, it will be a really rich environment for people with different ideas and movement backgrounds.”

Instead of traditional auditions, Dance Ensemble/Activate, held an informational workshop on Jan. 25 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. in the Bucksbaum Dance Studio. The workshop served as a session in which potential participants could interact with choreographers in order to come to a mutual agreement on involvement.  The process is still open to newcomers, who can contact Miller for more information.

As a first year faculty member, Miller has taken feedback from last semester’s ensemble in order to structure a new sort of program. With five directors, the spring show will prove to be an interesting and collaborative experience for participants and viewers.

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