Ok, it’s time for a Western performance series pop quiz. You have four weeks. You have a cast of dancers. You are collaborating with a musician who is composing a soundscore specifically crafted to fit your dance. Your only limitation is that you must make something new and original, and you have a very short time in which to pull it off. What show are you working on?
What’s that I hear? Did someone say New Music/New Dance? This year marks the eighth consecutive run of the entirely student produced, choreographed, composed, and performed show, produced by the AS Concert Coordinators club. “It’s about raw, weird energy; it’s about original material. I love this show because you get so much freedom,” said Artistic Director Carley Rissman. “It is the only truly student run dance show at the university,” she said. “You only get a month to make everything. It’s a collaborative show between students, alumni, and community musicians.”
The work begins with a match-up meeting, where choreographers and musicians are paired up according to their creative visions. A lot of the process “depends on the dynamic of the collaboration,” said Rissman. This year, one of the composers is trying on a new hat and acting the part of a choreographer.
Nicholas Brittain Shaber, a multi-year veteran composer for New Music/New Dance, is working with choreographer Annie Flansburg to relay the ideas he has for a dance piece into physical form. Inspiration for other pieces in the show has been drawn from ideas as far reaching as left brain/right brain psychology and Dante’s inferno. There may even be a guest appearance by a dancing robot. The night promises to be eclectic and engaging.
One of the special things about this show is that it draws performers from a much wider scope than any of the other performances produced by the dance department. Since it is the one completely student-run dance show, the normal requirement that every performer must be currently enrolled in a dance technique class doe not apply. This gives Western students who are not usually involved in dance concerts a chance to strut their stuff.
“Often as choreographers, we get stuck with the ideal of a technical dancer,” said Rissman. But she extolled the benefits of untrained dancers, saying “they don’t get all Martha Graham on your ass.”
Instead of getting really presentational and showy, Rissman explained, people new to performance often have a stage presence that is honest, real, genuine. They are not putting on a front like seasoned performers sometimes do. This candid stage presence is one of the most beautiful things an audience can witness in a dancer.
One of the things that rouses the energy of this show is that “you only have one night. You never have to worry about recreating the energy of the first night because you only get one,” said Rissman.
The pressure is on to perform to the fullest possible level. The limited run of New Music/New Dance also lends itself to the unrefined energy that is such an essential component of the show. “You don’t try to add polish to a river rock,” said Rissman. “It is what it is.”
So get ready to watch some raw, uncut, new music and dance! The show is on November 12, at 7:30 p.m. in the PAC Concert Hall. Advance tickets are $4 for students, staff, faculty and seniors, and $5 for the general public. The day of the show, all ticket prices go up by $1. Tickets can be purchased at the PAC Box Office.