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Dance Theatre performs unique show in Studio 88

By Hannah Fierle, For The Miami Student

Miami University's Dance Theatre will perform a winter concert series this weekend.

This performance is the first to be produced by the theatre department, which prompted a change in venue - from Hall Auditorium to the Center for Performing Arts experimental theatre, Studio 88.

Studio 88 is a black box theatre - a small space with painted black walls, no curtain and a stage only a few inches above the floor. The limited space allows for a sense of intimacy between the dancers and audience, who will be separated only by a few feet, unlike a traditional stage.

"The intimacy of the space affords the dancers to be much more personal and immersive than they're used to," said Lana Kay Rosenberg, Dance Theatre director. "This new space is really exciting for the choreographers and dancers to experiment and challenge themselves."

Rosenberg explained how the small space influenced routines to feature fewer dancers onstage. The performance is comprised of nine routines and a finale, which includes all 21 dancers. Aside from the finale, most of the pieces include only a few dancers.

"This performance will be unlike any other Dance Theatre concert," said senior Beth Seither, vice president of Dance Theatre. "The close space will give a completely different experience than ever before. The dances are able to push more limits and really make the audience feel included in the concert."

An eclectic selection of music in the show ranges from traditional 1940s swing to classical music by Mozart, and even from Miami alumnus Ben Majoy ('09), under the name Diamondstein.

The performance incorporates many guest choreographers, who are both accomplished dancers and Miami alumni. Joanna Kotze choreographed "sequenza," her ninth piece with Dance Theatre. After graduating in 1998, she pursued dance in New York City and was awarded the prestigious 2013 New York Dance and Performance Award for Outstanding Emerging Choreographer.

Nicole Few Hunter ('02) pursued a career as an attorney, but continued her love for dance by teaching classes at Miami University Hamilton. Her contribution to the performance is the piece, "Square Pegs."

Dance Theatre allows students to express themselves and their passion by choreographing routines.

"The piece that I choreographed has pushed me in ways that I never thought possible in the movement and technical aspects," said Seither. "For the first time, I have decided to rely heavily on props, which has been a challenge but is also very rewarding."

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While the unique stage is in many ways itself a prop, other props include wooden boxes and flashlights.

"It actually amazes me how much commitment all the company members have, considering we are all so busy outside of Dance Theatre as well and what we do is completely extracurricular," said Chelsea Bellinger, president of Dance Theatre. "I think that it just speaks volumes about how passionate we all are about dance and I hope that the audience can see how passionate we are by watching us perform."

Dance Theatre creates and choreographs all of its shows, unlike other disciplines of theatre or music.

"In a matter of just a few short weeks, we have put together a pretty big undertaking with all new material," said Rosenberg. "If an organization decides to put on a play, the play is written and they learned the lines or an orchestra already has the music they need to learn. All of our material is brand new and has been choreographed just for this concert."

The Dance Theatre performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20 and 21, and at 2 p.m. on Nov. 22. All performances will be held in Studio 88 in the CPA. Tickets can be purchased at the Box Office and are free with a student ID, $10 in advance, and $12 at the door.