Dancers at Heart
The art of dance can be the ultimate form of expression for
those performers who can balance poise, agility and confidence in a piece that perfectly reflects
their muse and creativity.
Dedicated dancers take painstaking measures in ensuring each choreographed move is exercised perfectly in conveying their desired movements.
After spending a good portion of their formative years learning the precision-driven art form, three Appalachian State University students will step away from the limelight as they take on the role of choreographers in designing their own unique pieces for a traveling showcase.
As one of five stops for the 2013 North Carolina Dance Festival, Appalachian State University will see students and faculty partnering with an illustrious showcase of fellow Tar Heel dancers for a series of performances at Valborg Theatre Oct. 24 to 26, all at 7 p.m.
The lineup is as follows:
• Thursday, Oct. 24 – Jen Guy Metcalf from TERRANOVA Dance Theatre of Greensboro, Ron West from Black Irish of Raleigh and Eleanor Smith of Raleigh
• Friday, Oct. 25 – ShaLeigh Comerford from ShaLeigh Dance Works of Durham, Jessi Knight Walker of Chapel Hill and Karola Luttringhaus from Alban Elved Dance Company of Wilmington
• Saturday, Oct. 26 – Renay Aumiller from Renay Aumiller Dances of Durham and Emily Daughtridge of Boone
Boone will be the festival’s only stop where student performances will be interwoven with the talents of professional dancers, said Emily Daughtridge, an associate professor of dance at ASU.
“They (festival organizers) felt like the caliber of work from the students was high enough to stand with the touring company,” Daughtridge said.
To complement the talents of her students, Daughtridge will also have an opportunity to present an original piece that will be performed at each of the festival’s five stops.
According to a news release, the festival travels to five North Carolina communities each year, partnering professional choreographers alongside local artists and creating an expansive range of dance artistry in the process.
By allowing local dancers the chance to show off their chops at such a high level of performance, the festival keeps true to its mission of giving local artists a stage on which to prove their mettle.
The three separate student pieces will be performed every night of the Boone leg of the tour, Daughtridge said.
More than 100 student dancers and choreographers auditioned for the right to be included in the prestigious ensemble.
In evaluating each prospective choreographer, Daughtridge said judges carefully examined how each person conceived their pieces and their overall handle of the “overarching concept” of the piece.
After reviewing countless entries, Appalachian’s Christine Counts, Megan Windsor and Arianna Steffen were chosen as the three student choreographers and immediately went to work putting together original performances.
Counts’ piece, “Staying Grounded,” is what the title implies, in that the performances are floor-driven and low to the ground.
“Most of the bodies are in a forward, low level in space; there’s not many jumps,” said Counts, a senior geology, secondary education major and dance minor, who has been dancing since she was 10. “My concept had more of a negative through line.”
Counts said the experience of choreographing was “humbling” and that working with peers was challenging at times, but still rewarding.
Windsor, a senior dance studies student, said her piece is entitled “Solitude” and explores a deep perspective of life and which direction to go.
“It’s about how there is so much going on in life and how we want to be a part of everything, but sometimes we just need to focus on ourselves,” said Windsor, whose piece utilizes four dancers.
“I’m excited to see everything put together,” she said. “Seeing (the students) take the movements and put them in their body was amazing to see.”
Steffen, a junior exercise science student, will portray a lighter examination of the five stages of grieving, entitled, “1, 3, 2, 4, 5,” which explores how different people go through the stages in their own unique ways.
“Their take on the grieving process is surprisingly whimsical,” Daughtridge said.
A dancer at heart, Steffen said it was hard for her, at first, to take on the role of instructor.
“It was really hard for me to step out from being a dancer and take charge of everyone else,” Steffen said. “My movement vocabulary (in choreographing) has also improved a lot.”
Tickets and More
Tickets cost $8 for students, $13 for faculty, staff and senior citizens and $15 for general admission.
Tickets are available at the Valborg Theatre box office Monday through Friday, from 1 to 5 p.m., by phone at (828) 262-3063 and online at http://www.theatre.appstate.edu.
Valborg Theatre is located on the north side of Chapell Wilson Hall on Howard Street. The door faces the back of the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts on King Street.
Parking is available in faculty lots after 5 p.m. and in the College Street parking deck near Belk Library and Information Commons after 5:30 p.m. Parking is also available in the Rivers Street Parking Deck and the Howard Street parking area adjacent to the Miles Annas Building.