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About Me:

My name is Olivia and I am a senior at Butler University. I spend most of my time in Lilly Hall as a BFA Dance Performance major. When not in rehearsal or ballet class, I write papers for my English Literature second major. In my super-abundant, never-lacking, this-is-highly-sarcastic spare time, I attempt to cook in my apartment kitchen, watch Youtube videos of ballet, knit sweaters that never seem to come to an end, and read books both silly and serious. If I could take any class at Butler just for kicks, I'd go for DiffyQ.

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Posts Tagged “Student Choreography”

Senior Productions

Senior Productions

I saw the Senior Production showcase the Thursday before spring break began. Those senior dance majors who go on to take a third semester of choreography (I took only Choreography I and II) can opt into the Senior Production showcase in the spring.

The show is run much like Student Choreography Showcase in the fall — there are two nights of shows in the studio-theater in Lilly Hall, all run by, choreographed by, and performed by students of Butler’s Department of Dance (except Master Electrician Cathy Sipe, who is stage manager). This year, five senior dance majors participated, each choreographing, rehearsing, and producing one large-group and one small-group piece.

Lilly Hall

I thoroughly enjoyed the show: One of my friend’s pieces was titled R.E.M. and showcased wispy port de bras motifs that I adored. The following piece, by the same choreographer, sent the dream scuttling for cover as two girls tormented a third in what seemed more like a nightmare. Both were very, very well done.

(Also, a girl in another piece took sick at the last minute, and the male choreographer stepped into her place. Instead of two men partnering a girl en pointe, there were two men partnering a third. I think it turned out really well — it made for a more dynamic commentary on gender roles, for sure. Kudos to everyone in that piece for pulling off a great performance.)

While this show doesn’t present as wide a variety of choreographers as the Student Showcase, the pieces are generally more polished, since the choreographers are coming from the rather rigorous Choreography III class. With this plus the Student Choreography showing in the fall, there are plenty of opportunities for budding choreographers to display their creations — and lots of demand for dancers who want to work on projects outside Butler Ballet or Butler Chamber Dance.

Fun Fact: I learned on Thursday that 2012 is the 62nd Senior Production — that’s every year since 1950, even longer than the oldest Butler Ballet tradition of Midwinter Dance Festival!

Student Choreography: It never ends

Actually, Student Choreography is over, so my title may not be entirely accurate. I feel like I have so much more time now that it’s over. Of course, I should be writing my long Irish Lit paper. But, you know. I needed one weekend to chill out, right? That’s what I’m telling myself.

Back to the Student Choreography report. I’ve told you what Student Choreography is and a bit about the music I used. Now to the dancing:

I’m not completely happy with the final result. I learned quite a bit in the process of choreographing this first piece, and I think certain choices were successful. But. If I had to do it over again:

  • I would maybe chose different music. The Art Pepper Quartet’s version of “You Go To My Head” proved to be an ambitious choice for someone with not the greatest musical acuity.
  • I would try to work more efficiently. I called so much rehearsal, and I really am grateful for my fifteen dancers for putting up with me. They were all very cooperative, so I definitely owe them a big thank you!
  • I would not be so stiff. I realized half-way through that my choreography tended to be walk-to-a-place. Dance-in-one-place. Walk-elsewhere. Repeat. I needed more moving phrases and more formational shifts that were not so arbitrary.
  • More dynamics. There were moments with different moods, but it tended towards doalotofmovements,oneoneachcount and hold. Repeat.
  • I just didn’t like some of it. There was no time to revise, however, so onto the stage it went.

Despite all that, I’m really glad I participated in Student Choreography. The very fact that I can pick apart my dance ’til the cows come home proves that I got a lot out of the experience, right?

My piece was called “All the Stars’ Eyelids,” by the way, which is the literal translation of the first few words of the Welsh song “Ar Hyd Y Nos.” The Welsh title actually translates to “All Through the Night,” but the first few words start, “Holl amrantau’r sêr ddywedan,” which is “All the stars’ eyelids say.” My piece was an ode to odd people, and I thought the title was fitting.

And that was the story of my first choreographed work in the Student Choreography showcase. It was not entirely successful, but I learned a lot from the experience.

Dancers from my piece on the Student Choreography flyers!

Student Choreography: My Frankenstein

The Student Choreography report continues…

I used music by Art Pepper called You Go to My Head. I have been trying to choreograph something for an embarrassingly long time, and this music is actually a vestige from another idea I had involving the ideal of femininity right after World War II, since there seem to be some contradictions in there. The music is part of the cool jazz genre right around that time.

(At least, it’s cool jazz as far as I know–I suppose I should ask some of my jazz musician friends for an analysis. I already got a wonderfully entertaining analysis of the chord progressions…. There was something about a dejected E-flat finally finding resolution just when he had given up. If you think you have a musical ear, why don’t you listen to the music and tell me if you agree?)

YouTube Preview Image

If you can’t see the video above–because I can’t, and I wonder if I’m going about embedding it the wrong way–follow this link to the Youtube page. [Edit: I think I've got it.]

So that was the music I used. I had three soloists and twelve corps members, and though I would have loved to have colorful costumes, there were so many people that for cost reasons I could not make or buy anything. They all wore white t-shirts and black tights, and the marvelous lighting designer made the white look pretty darn good in purples and greens.

Because the music is so evocative of a certain period and mood, I had to be really careful not to slip into that style. Much of the movement ignores the melody and tries to work off the baseline, though I honestly had a pretty hard time picking this piece apart. I’m not incredibly knowledgeable about music, and jazz compositions tend to be very complex. I think so, at least.

So I tried not to Mickey Mouse the music.

Click the picture for source.

More later?

Student Choreography. Like mad.

Student Choreography is over! I breathe a humongous sigh of relief. Free time is mine! (Sortofnotreally.)

More time to explore Butler's campus! (Except this picture was taken a few weeks ago, and now it's freezing and I wore two coats today.)

What is Student Choreography? The annual Student Choreography Showcase is a forum for student-choreographed, student-danced, and student-run works. There is always a Senior Showcase for those senior dance majors in the Choreography 3 class, but that is only for people in a certain class, and they have a lot of faculty guidance. Student Choreography is a bit like the baby birds being pushed out of the nest, except no one’s doing any pushing. We all jump.

Basically, dance majors choreograph pieces on their fellow students and show their work to any who care to come. The largest dance studio is converted into a theater, complete with a light plot, wings, mini-bleachers for the audience… the whole deal. The audience always overflows onto the floor, there are so many people, and this year was even more crowded than usual, since the two nights of shows actually featured different programs.

This is unusual, since normally there is one show that runs for two nights instead of the other way around. However, this year brought an unprecedented number of choreographers–I think the final tally was fifteen. Thus the splitting into two programs.

How was I involved? Freshman year: Light board operator. Sophomore: Danced in one piece. Junior: Danced in two pieces and choreographed my own.

The shows all went really well, and I’m very glad I participated. But. I am also very glad I have a few more hours to do homework each week, since the choreography and rehearsal process was as time-consuming as I thought it’d be… which is to say, very.

More on Student Choreography over the next few days. I’ve been a somewhat sporadic blogger, I know. Having class two nights a week plus study tables for physics another night kind of eliminates Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from blogging-available time. Many apologies, but that’s the way it is.

Anatomy of a Friday

When I was applying schools, what I really wanted to know was what I’d be doing day in and day out. Thus we have… Anatomy of a Friday. Today’s schedule:

  • 8:10 am I woke up late and scrabbled a bit to have breakfast and get to class…
  • 9 am Dance history. We all presented our projects. Most groups got really into it and dressed up. Two girls even drew mustaches on to dance the man’s role! One group presented the pyrrhic Buffen’s Dance: There were aluminum foil swords and shields. Oh yes.

    (photo from Dances of the Late Renaissance website--click picture to follow link)

  • 10 am Work out a bit in the body conditioning room in the basement of Lilly Hall. Go to the library and check out some books for my Irish Literature class. Buy a wrap from C-Club with my Dawg Bucks and have half of it for the first half of my lunch.
  • 11 am Physics class. I survived my first test! Now we are just starting a unit on special dynamics. We had what I call a “history moment,” in which the professor introduces each new unit with a bit of history. He asked us who the three greatest scientists were. Can you guess?
  • noon Finish lunch. Get ready for ballet class.
  • 12:20 pm Ballet technique class.
  • 2 pm Modern class.
  • 3:30 pm Work in the costume shop.
  • 4 pm Read on a bench outside to enjoy the beautiful weather. Go back to the library to return one book and check out three more.

    Some of the many benches on Butler's campus

  • 5 pm Back into Lilly Hall to run my Student Choreography rehearsal. We finished the dance!! Yaaaaay! This is extremely exciting. Sunday, we will perform it in costume to get the lighting design set. Look for updates on that process in a bit.
  • 7 pm Return to apartment. Make a frittata. Eat frittata. Read a bit of Dune–I know, I know. Reading for pleasure. In college. Scandalous.
  • 9 pm Grocery trip with a friend across the hall. :) Have deep and meaningful conversation.
  • 10 pm Unpack groceries. Succumb to jaunty yellow bag of peanut M&Ms.
  • 10:45 pm Write blog post. Think longingly of sleep.

Good night!

Prosiect is Welsh for “project”

There are many projects currently revolving around Olivia-world. Things I am doing:

  1. Student Choreography. Like mad.
  2. Dance history project. We are reconstructing and presenting a Renaissance dance from Thoinot Arbeau’s Orchesographie. Here’s the dance we are researching, though Irwin Library’s copy isn’t in French. It was all I could trouver.
  3. A circle and a sweater. I am slowly knitting these two objects. If I continue at my current rate of three rows a week on the sweater and half a round a week on the circle, I’ll be done by the time I graduate from Butler! Go me!

    Some of the lace in my lace circle

  4. Notice that learning Welsh is not included in the list. I admit that sometimes I listen to Learn Welsh podcasts while I work out, but even that has been recently replaced by my ceaseless work on Student Choreography. It’s Art Pepper for me all the way, man.
  5. Papers. I need to start writing my big research paper for my Irish Literature class. ASAP.
  6. Cooking. Yesterday I made Caribbean Black Beans from my Moosewood cookbook. Basically, you heat beans in a pan with some herbs, some onion, and a bit of orange juice. Pretty good.

Halfway to Tipperary

For the context of the title of this post, pretend Tipperary means “finishing my Student Choreography Showcase piece” instead of “an town in Ireland’s Muster province.”

When I was a freshman, I ran the lighting board during the shows. When I was a sophomore, I performed in one of my classmates’ pieces. This year, I’m in two pieces and choreographing my own. The tech rehearsal is in a week. I am only halfway finished.

Student Choreography is a student-run, student-choreographed, and student-danced performance in October. All dance major can choreograph and/or dance in the show. A few stipulations:

  • Students may dance in no more than three pieces.
  • Works must remain under five minutes.
  • Choreographers cannot dance in their own pieces.

Apart from that, we are pretty much given free rein. I have not successfully choreographed a dance before, and it’s terrifying. The choreographers all met on Thursday to discuss dates and times… And I am far behind.

To be fair, I have an ambitious project: over four minutes with fifteen dancers. Fifteen! That’s a lot.

And… I should get back to working on choreography. The music I’m using:


Annnnd it’s not working. You can go here if the video is a sad red square for you, too. It’s Art Pepper‘s You Go to My Head.