You walk into a room and sit down in a plush soft chair. To your left you see an elderly couple musing over some bit of shared history; the smiles they exchange inspire your own private grin. To your right, a group of Western students are telling jokes; you notice that one of them, the girl farthest away from you, is clearly not partaking in the laughter of the rest. Your eye is caught by a little boy jumping up and down, loosely grasping his mother’s hand as she talks to a friend; you can sense and see his feistiness and restless energy in his wondering eyes and fidgeting body.
Take these gestures, amplify and elaborate them with choreographic craft, and you have Dance Works, the annual modern dance show featuring the choreography of advanced dance students, faculty and guest artists.

Dance program coordinator Jessica Kruger-Stahl said of the show, “Everyone should come. Dance Works truly succeeds in offering something for everyone within the concert. If you’ve experienced modern dance before and enjoyed it, there will be something you love; if you’ve never seen modern dance, it’s a great opportunity to find out what you like.”

Sarah Crockett and Mary Thies, two senior dance students, agree with Stahl and believe the strength of this year’s show is testament to the dance program’s evolution. “This is the best Dance Works by far out of all the years I’ve seen it,” said Thies.
“You can tell that our program is really maturing, because this year’s show is the most professional.” Crockett added, “It has the most variety, professionalism, maturity and distinction out of any Dance Works I’ve seen. We’re real now. We’re no longer just a program, we’re a department, and we’re starting to prove it.”

These pieces have been in rehearsal since the beginning of fall quarter, and are now in their finishing stages. The six student choreographers and over twenty student performers represent the end of a long process, starting as small as learning one simple gesture or movement phrase. “This is my first time choreographing for Dance Works, and it’s definitely more nerve-wracking choreographing than performing. But it’s been a really nice experience, playing around with choreography, and it’s been a learning process. I’ve learned how to choreograph seven bodies effectively,” said Jessica Hoage, a senior Dance major whose piece will appear in the concert. In fact, Hoage has learned to choreograph so effectively that along with fellow choreographer Kathy Pottratz, she is crafting the dance numbers for this year’s musical theater production, “Evita.”

Dance Works presents a wide array of modern dance style and possibility. You will see everything from a dramatized Parisian can-can, with colorful skirts flashing legs and undergarments through a smoke filled saloon, to chairs, characters and gestures drenched in the lyrics of Tom Waits, to dancers enfolded in the cream-colored sheets of a bed, and so much more. With the range of artful choreography and expressive dancers, there is sure to be a dance piece to delight and inspire even the most skeptical of dance critics.

Come be dazzled, invigorated, and inspired! Dance Works will be performed February 9 to 11 at 7:30 p.m., and January 12 at 2 p.m., at the Performing Arts Center Mainstage. Tickets are available at the PAC Box Office and cost $7 for students, $8 for faculty and staff, and $10 for general public.