By Kelly Burns, Staff Writer
The audience sits in darkness, talking in hushed tones as they wait for the show to begin.
Then, the lights hit the stage in Wilks Theater. Dark silhouettes move across the backdrop. The lights brighten again, bringing the entire stage into full view. Music swells, and the silhouettes become people, dancers.
And then they begin to move.
Miami's Dance Theatre Company had been preparing for their winter dance concert on Dec. 3 and 4 for months. While the concert was traditionally held in Hall Auditorium, it moved to Wilks Theater for this semester's performances. The process began back at the beginning of the semester with auditions and rehearsals.
Every member of the company auditioned for all of the pieces. Then, they chose their preferences and told the choreographers how many pieces they were willing to be in that semester.
After auditions and preferences were over, the choreographers met and decided which dancers would be in which performance.
Student choreographer, Erin Lensmeyer, looked past the auditions for dancers for her piece, "Vulnicura." For her dance, she required dancers who could portray the theme of healing throughout the dance and adjust to her choreography.
"I have a different style than a lot of people in the company," Lensmeyer said. "So I look for a person who can forget their past technique and do what I'm asking. So that's important to me, and so is emotional commitment."
Throughout the semester, the company had rehearsals about twice a week, depending on the choreographer's preference. They critiqued each other's pieces and offered advice about how to make the dance stronger.
Throughout the entire process, student choreographer, Alyssa Gardner felt her piece, "Unease," develop and change.
"I'm a senior and I'm thinking about grad school, like the unease that comes with the unknown," Gardner said. "It kind of turned into a story of friendship and who stays and who goes in the transitions of your life."
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Sophomore Olivia Berthel was a part of the dance "The Walk," which was choreographed by company president Liza Torrence.
The dance centered around a schizophrenic homeless person, played by Sally Micsko, and the figments of her imagination.
"A lot of the pieces have central concepts that they're based around," Berthel said. "And a lot of that comes from the fact that we are a performing company."
Other concepts within the concert included vulnerability, a tribute to the victims of the Orlando shooting and the idea of dance itself.
"It's very important to have a concept that pushes the dancers and choreographers so you can see the emotion on stage and feel the story of what's happening," Berthel said.
Junior Lydia Hudak has been dancing for 15 years, and to her, the concert was an explosion of emotion and expression.
"I really enjoyed it," she said. "There was a story behind every piece of movement, and every move they made had a meaning behind it. I guess that's more of the theatre aspect."
Her favorite dance was the first one, "vul-ner-a-ble."
"I feel like it spoke to a lot of people," she said. "And they portrayed that inner struggle of not being able to be vulnerable, but when you actually are is when you can do great things."
"vul-ner-a-ble" was choreographed by Miami alumna, Danielle Sadler. Five of the 10 dances were choreographed by Miami students.
For Gardner, seeing all of her work come to fruition was amazing.
"Seeing it on stage, with the lights and the costumes and everyone dancing full out... it was breathtaking," Gardner said.
Besides choreographing and dancing, the company participates in all aspects of putting on the show, including advertising and promoting the event around campus.
"A lot of times, we don't have any stage crew for anything," Berthel said. "We're responsible for all of that so we're really self-promoting."
Berthel said that the majority of the production is student-run, including the lighting designers and stage managers.
"We have our director, Lana Kay, and she brings a lot to the table, but everything is pretty student-heeled, and it's really fun to see that because the show is pretty professional looking," Berthel said.
The company felt extremely proud of the product of their labors.
"I congratulate my company for a wonderful show," president Liza Torrence said. "Our extensive time and dedication put forth to create a memorable performance was well worth it."