As the temperature drops and leaves begin to change on campus, dancers bustle around AU preparing for their annual fall showcase Fall Into Dance. After working for half a year on their pieces, student choreographers and dancers are ready for an audience and eager to share what they have worked diligently on.
Fall Into Dance exists to provide a unique experience for dancers to choreograph and create their own pieces. The showcase is completely student-led, so choreographers learn to compromise and work in a professional setting with peers. Fall Into Dance gives students a chance to express themselves while pushing them to dig deeper into the meaning of their pieces and work hard to create brilliant art.
The showcase allows dancers to work in a safe but realistic environment to help them better understand the difficulties and rewards of creating a piece and working with others to make it possible.
Assistant Professor of Dance Erich Yetter explained an important aspect of Fall Into Dance.
“It’s a safe place to be able to make mistakes; it’s a safe place to push yourself,” Yetter said.
Fall Into Dance is ultimately meant to be an educational experience for students to gain better understanding of dance.
The entire process of Fall Into Dance begins six months before the dancers take to Reardon stage in front of an audience. Dance majors prepare song and piece ideas and record possible choreography in hopes of getting chosen to be one of about 12 choreographers for the showcase.
Over the summer, choreographers continue working on their pieces and send occasional check-ins to dance instructors to ensure progress is being made. Dance majors arrive back on campus a week early to audition and begin rehearsals for Fall Into Dance and continue rehearsals until the performances in November.
Choreographers must compromise and negotiate in the casting process as dancers are only allowed to be in a maximum of four pieces. Each piece rehearses once a week for an hour, but since many dancers are in multiple pieces, the rehearsal hours quickly pile up. Many choreographers even participate as dancers in other numbers. Since the showcase is almost completely student-led, choreographers must also work with a lighting coordinator and costume designer to achieve their visions in completion.
While instructors are almost completely uninvolved, they do assist in honing choreographers’ visions and shaping them to create pieces that portray those visions as clearly as possible. Dance professors challenge students to look at their choreography and pieces in a different lights. These challenges and suggestions guide choreographers to create extraordinary art without forfeiting artistic integrity.
As a seasoned veteran of Fall Into Dance, senior Melissa Denney understands the difficulties and frustrations of participating in another student’s number.
“It is very subjective. If you are a choreographer’s friend then you get a special part in a dance,” Denney said.
She goes on to explain that it can be difficult to find the balance between “friend” and “choreographer” when working with other students.
Senior Clare Lillig finds difficulty in another element of the process.
“The difficulty for me is keeping my stamina strong and my body healthy so that I can dance without worry about potential injury or fatigue,” Lillig said.
With numerous classes, rehearsals and homework, it becomes too easy to fall behind on sleep or become sick. Staying healthy is essential during the rehearsal process to produce a professional-level show.
Despite the difficulties that come with creating and participating in a dance production, the rewards are not in short supply. Denney and Lillig agree that finishing a piece is one of the most rewarding experiences of the process.
“Seeing the whole dance together from beginning to end and reflecting on the process is so special,” Lillig said.
Denney also agreed that the end reaction from the audience and the choreographer is one of the best parts of a performance.
“The reward is seeing a choreographer extremely happy when the piece is finished and it is everything they want it to be,” she said. “When they jump and scream, you know you’ve done amazing.”
The showcase will feature a broad range of stories, emotions and dance styles. Among these are an acapella tap number, a piece about a personal confidence journey and a lyrical number about a community processing grief. Styles featured include tap, jazz, ballet, hip hop, modern and contemporary. The unique variety of pieces guarantees exceptional entertainment for everyone.
Fall Into Dance takes place in Reardon Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 8, and 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 9. Tickets are free to students and professors. To reserve tickets, you can call the Reardon Box Office at (765) 641-4140.