Luther College Chips

Why We Dance

Orchesis performs “Why We Dance,” a routine that uses dance to tell each individual member’s journey to dance.

Orchesis performs “Why We Dance,” a routine that uses dance to tell each individual member’s journey to dance.

Matthew Gleaves (‘19) | Chips

Matthew Gleaves (‘19) | Chips

Orchesis performs “Why We Dance,” a routine that uses dance to tell each individual member’s journey to dance.

Matthew Gleaves, Staff Writer

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Orchesis expressed the healing, growth, and joy dance has brought into their lives through “Why We Dance.” This show, which incorporated both improvisation and structure, was performed on Friday, March 9 and Saturday, March 10.

With this show, Orchesis — a contemporary dance group — had their first performance as a co-curricular group, their first performance in Jewel Theatre, and their first performance with live music.

Orchesis added last weekend’s performance to their schedule in addition to their annual showcase in April after becoming a co-curricular group.

Throughout the performance of “Why We Dance,” Orchesis members expressed why they dance through a routine staged in three sections. Orchesis members decided many of the themes they danced to and choreographed the entire routine. Dance major and Orchesis member Danica Kafton (‘18) was one of the show’s choreographers.

“We structured it so there are three sections: healing, growth, and joy,” Kafton said. “In each section, there are bits where we as choreographers set exactly the movements we are going to do, and some moments where all of the dancers got to choose their own movement. The dancers got to insert how they felt about healing, growth, or joy into the structure of what we were creating.”

Matthew Gleaves (‘19) | Chips
Abby Suhr (‘18) reaches out to the crowd while telling her story during the “growth” section.

The lighting and music were both utilized to tell the stories and guide the audience from one section to the next. The dancers also changed their costumes for each section: all black during healing, earth-tones during growth, and primary colors during joy.

The theatre was dimly lit as the dancers performed. Moving through each section, the music varied from energetic rhythms, quiet melodies, and the subtle music of the dancer’s feet on the floor.

Instead of using a soundtrack, Orchesis performed with live music by Emma Withers (‘18) and Andrew Murray (‘18).

According to co-facilitator of Orchesis Lindsey Ahlers (‘18), this music was unique because it was a mixture of improvisation and structured music with Withers on drums and Murray on guitar.

Co-facilitators Ahlers and Grace Larsen (‘19) provided insight on the preparation of the additional performance and how it has changed their rehearsal for the Annual Showcase.

“Since we are doing this whole new thing scheduling wise and figuring out our show in April, we had to balance our practice times,” Ahlers said.

Working with Professor of Dance and Orchesis Faculty Advisor Jane Hawley (‘87), Orchesis became a co-curricular group last spring. Because of this change, Orchesis was able to present their first performance in Jewel. Becoming a co-curricular activity also meant that the group must incorporate movement fundamentals, a curriculum created by Hawley that teaches dancers that their bodies are intelligent.

The influence of movement fundamentals was reflected in “Why We Dance” in that it was a seamless 40-minute piece with noticeable divisions of sections and incorporatation of improvisational movements.

“[As a co-curricular group], we partner and work with the dance department,” Ahlers said. “We have worked to implement the dance fundamentals curriculum into our practices.”

Attendee Madeline Skjervold (‘19) noticed the balance of group dancing, while still seeing individualism expressed by each dancer.

“Throughout the dance, they were moving as one single unit, but they so clearly expressed their own individuality,” Skjervold said. “That was just really beautiful to see. Sometimes seeing the way someone moves, you’re able to get some sort of emotional transfer.”

Orchesis will perform again this semester in their spring showcase on April 28 and 29 in Storre Theatre.

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