Isabel Pheifer—Staff Writer
The Dordt University Theatre Arts Department is putting on a dance concert this spring. Each year, the department features a student-directed performance (a studio show). This spring’s dance concert is new addition to these shows.
“I am so excited to share this love of mine with people. It is going to be so special,” junior theatre arts major Sommer Schaap said.
Robin Suing, the theatre arts office and marketing manager, is in charge of the show. As a part of her quest for a master’s degree in dance education, she must complete a final thesis paper. This dance concert is a part of that paper, in which she is trying to determine the difference between teacher-led, student-led, and collaborative choreography and how their results may differ.
The show will feature all three styles of choreography. Of the ten dances in the concert, Suing is choreographing two, six will be choreographed by two students, and two more will be choreographed collaboratively.
“This whole thing started much simpler—me wanting to choreograph dances to songs that I have loved for a long time or that have been meaningful in my life,” Suing said. “However, as time went on my research project developed, and this whole concept started evolving.”
Because the project is partially student-led, Suing selected two students to help: Schaap and sophomore secondary education major Anna Jansen. These two will each choreograph three dances, as well as collaborate with the rest of the cast.
Suing first mentioned the project idea last spring at a company meeting for the theatre arts department. It sparked Schaap’s interest, and when Suing reached out this year to ask if she was interested in being involved, Schaap jumped on the opportunity.
“I am really excited to work with Robin, she is very gracious and accepting about where we are at with our dance levels,” Schaap said.
She has already jumped headfirst into the project, helping with the audition process.
Auditions were held Tuesday, Feb. 1. Seventeen students auditioned in-person, and two sent in recordings. During auditions, the potential cast members did a cardio warmup routine, stretched, then learned a combination from one of the songs in the show. All 19 who auditioned, plus Schaap and Jansen, received a part in the show. The cast consists of students from many different majors and backgrounds, including nursing majors, theatre department members, a dance team member, and choir members.
Suing will tell the story of her life, including experiences with mental health issues and an abusive relationship. Through these dances, she hopes the story will bring to light many problems and hardships people face every day.
“While yes, I have a story to tell,” Suing said, “I also recognize that everyone has a journey they have been through and I told the dancers at the auditions, ‘Your story is valid and should also be heard.’”
The studio show format will bring something new to campus, broadening the scope for theatre and dance.
“To be able to see other people’s interpretations on choreography and to see people develop the skills that they may not even know that they have is something that really excites me,” Schaap said. “Just to be able to dance again and be creative in this way is one of the best feelings for me.”
The dance concert will be held on April 28th, 29th, and 30th in the Black Box Theatre.
“I think the depth of storytelling through dance is going to be phenomenal,” Suing said.