The University of Memphis dance program is premiering its annual showcase on March 25 and March 26 in collaboration with the theatre department.
Student choreographers and production students have worked together to create exciting, thought-provoking and visually stunning dance works and stages to present to the public.
Every dance piece has a theme that the choreographers proposed to the department. Through an audition process, the choreographer chose their ideal dancers for their pieces.
Senior and sophomore theatre majors Summer Rowe and Lauryn Adair partnered to choreograph their piece with the theme of female empowerment.
“[The piece] is called ‘Restoration of Woman,'” Rowe said. “I think of it as a resurrection in a sense, where they are really coming into themselves as women. [The dancers] are getting rid of a lot of societal standards that are placed on women. They’re made free of the double standards.”
The choreographers and dancers began rehearsals at the end of January. After weeks filled with practice, choreographers are excited to finally see their piece come to life on stage.
“The thing I’m most looking forward to is really seeing my dancers take ownership of the piece," Rowe said. "Instead of it being my piece, it’s their piece. I’m really looking forward to that and seeing it all come together.”
Kennedy Reed, a junior theatre and social work major, based her piece on connection.
“My piece is titled ‘Discovering Connections’ and it’s about all the ways we experience connection throughout our lives, whether that be personally or with others or with our environment, physically, mentally, and emotionally,” Reed said.
The contemporary piece is inspired by a class Reed took under Professor Kristen Lucas.
“In the class, we talked about connection and how connection starts with breath and how it’s all around us. It really just inspired me, and I wanted to base my piece off that,” Reed said.
For most choreographers involved in this showcase, including senior dance and dance science major Connor Chaparro, this is the first group piece they’ve choreographed on the collegiate level.
“I’ve never choreographed on other people and presented it in a show or anything, but I have choreographed solos on myself,” Chaparro said.
Chaparro’s piece, titled "Come from Water," focuses on evolution, both as a society and individually.
“Specifically with individuals, we evolve spiritually, emotionally, biologically, intellectually. Every way that you can think of how we evolve. The synonyms that we found during the creation process, me and my cast, were ‘change’ and ‘adaptation,’” Chaparro said. “One of biggest concepts we played with was how life actually started in water and evolves from there. A lot of the movement quality has fluid movement. The lighting is blue to play off the concept of water as well.”
The eight choreographers have created pieces that are meaningful to themselves and express not only their artistry, but their passion for dance.
“[Dance] is a medium to our inner selves. It’s a way that I, personally, have been able to transform thought and emotion into palpable and physical movement,” Chaparro said. “You can’t see an emotion, but you can see the emotion on the face. You can’t see a thought, but you can portray it in the real world. I think just being able to take the intangible and make it tangible is probably the coolest thing about dance.”
The EMERGE showcase will open March 25 at 7 p.m. with a followup March 26 at 2 p.m. with University of Memphis students granted free admission.
After the showcase, patrons will have a chance to ask the choreographers questions about the pieces.
“It’s a lot of fun. You’re going to see a lot of different ideas and concepts that our choreographers have been working on all semester as well as our dancers,” Kenney Reed said.
“If you’ve never come to a dance concert before, I think this is a great one to start with, and it’s going to be really entertaining.”
EMERGE showcases the dance pieces of 8 talented and passionate student choreographers. Tickets to the show are free to students.