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Students evoke emotion, explore society in showcase

Published: Monday, February 4, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 10:09

For Point Park University dance students Morgan Veldhuizen and Alex Bright, their learning experience is more than perfecting their technique. It is about being confident in their talents, expressing emotion, telling a message and creating an experience for their audience.

“I want to be able to share the gifts I have, share myself with others,” said Veldhuizen in an interview on the fourth floor lounge in Lawrence Hall on Saturday.

Now she and Bright have the opportunity to showcase their talents as choreographers in the Dance Club showcase this Sunday, Feb. 10 in the George Rowland White Performance Center in the dance complex of Lawrence Hall. There will be two performances at 2 p.m. and at 5 p.m. Student tickets are only $1.

According to Veldhuizen, who is concentrating in modern, all members of the Dance Club were eligible to participate. While each piece had to be approved by the club, they were open to all submissions. Veldhuizen jumped at the opportunity to sign up to choreograph a piece.

“I think it’s important for us [students] to start creating things ourselves…And this particular piece has been on my mind for a while,” Veldhuizen said of her modern/contemporary piece “(No Bad Dreams) No Paranoia.”

It began as a solo for a class assignment that she wanted to expand. She was originally inspired by an exhibit at the Wood Street Galleries, “Night Haunts: A Journey through the London Night” by Sukhdev Sandhu.Sukhdev Sandhu, Night Haunts: A Journey through the London Night, 2006 “(No Bad Dreams) No Paranoia” combines two Radiohead songs, “Fitter Happier” and “Kid A.” Though the first part – the solo to “Fitter Happier” – is not about anything specifically, it contains movements that evoke anxiety.

“It’s about that explosion going off…and being superhuman,” she said.

The second part of the piece, “Kid A,” switches from the beginning and features an ensemble of five dancers. While the solo begins chaotically and ends calmly, the second part begins tranquilly and ends in disorder. The theme of the Radiohead album “OK Computer” of technology taking over is a huge influence in the piece, Veldhuizen explained.

“[The second part] is about society tearing at the seams. It explores the levels of which humans isolate themselves through technology,” she said.

Veldhuizen expresses this through the movements of her dance. One of her dancers, Ashley Zimmerman, a sophomore concentrating in jazz, said the movement of the piece felt natural.

“It felt good in my body,” Zimmerman said in a phone interview on Monday. “It’s not technical in the sense that it is about turns, leaps and jumps. It’s about movement quality.”

While the modern choreography is different for Zimmerman, she was excited to work with her friend because she had seen some of her previous solos.

“It was great working with her. I learned the material quicker, and she was easy to work with,” Zimmerman said.

However, the piece challenged Veldhuizen, and her biggest challenge was the process. She was anxious about the show and wanted to get the piece completely choreographed right away. After choosing the song, she turned on the music and listened to the part she wanted to choreograph. Veldhuizen would see how it made her feel, translate that feeling to another song, dance to it, then put that movement into the song she was using.

“It just takes a while, but I work well under pressure,” she said, laughing.

Bright, also a sophomore concentrating in modern, used a different approach to choreographing her piece “A Cause for Interruption” to the Aesthesys song “A Cage Went In Search Of a Bird.”  Instead of planning the movements of her piece ahead of time, she choreographs in the moment.

“My process can be frustrating for the dancers. I can’t do it ahead of time…But everyone has been a great sport,” Bright said in a phone interview on Sunday.

She explained that this process was especially appropriate for her piece because it is based on action and reaction. She needed to see the movements on the bodies of the dancers as they happened in order to continue the choreography.

While she has done more emotional and angsty pieces in the past, Bright said this one was simpler. She wanted to explore, focus more on the movement of the dancers and change her way of choreographing.

She said she used simple movements in her dance so the message was clearer. The steps are repetitive and mundane at first, and then they change as the theme of the dance is played out.

“You have a routine and you build up a pattern in life. Then when something or someone makes the pattern shift or change, you have to adopt and adapt your pattern to accommodate that change,” Bright explained of the meaning of her piece.

Like Veldhuizen, Bright’s biggest challenge was the process. She explained how she would do so much choreography with her dancers but it would take up little time in the song. However, she wanted to make sure they were taking their time and not forcing the movement. She wanted it to happen naturally.

Bright was nervous at first, but after having rehearsals she has begun to see the piece coming together.

“I’m really proud of my dancers. It’s really done so beautifully,” Bright said.

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