New show builds student dance community

Daniel Kim

Alongside the craze of the last week of class and the impending stress of finals, many students are committing every night this week to tech rehearsals for “Actually Just Kind of and Almost.” Last week, The Pioneer examined the structure of the show, and this week we spoke with students about the experience.

The performance will feature original movement-based works choreographed by Renée Archibald, Peter de Grasse, and guest artist David Thomson. The choreographers have created work that is multi-layered, de-centered, and sometimes quite funny, but it is the student dancers whose hard work and training will set the pieces in motion. Students in the show come from all backgrounds and represent a variety of experiences with dance.

Students were selected for both dancing and speaking roles in the performance through an audition process. Auditions were held back in September after an open call to all students in dance classes.

Meg Logue during a rehearsal for the show. Photo by Marra Clay.
Meg Logue during a rehearsal for the show. Photo by Marra Clay.

For junior Meg Logue, this show will be her first dance performance experience. She is currently enrolled in de Grasse’s intermediate modern dance class. Logue started her dance training with beginning modern dance during her first year at Whitman. When Logue heard the general announcement for auditions, she was interested, but it took convincing from a roommate and fellow dancer before she signed up for the audition. She was asked to be a part of de Grasse’s piece. Logue is learning about the demands of dance performance through this show.

“Mostly in the performance aspect, it is kind of scary because I have never done that kind of thing. I think the other dancers and Peter have done a really good job of making people of all skill levels feel really comfortable and improved our skill level with this process,” Logue said.

As a part of the learning process, de Grasse has also been learning and aiming to gear the performance towards the dance skills of all the students, allowing room for creativity and mobility. Along with their individual performance goals, these dances are for the students gain experience on all levels.

“I enjoy our dance a lot because Peter choreographed the whole thing but he also has been morphing the dance the whole semester based on the people in the group. It’s been changing based on the dynamics between us and our various skill levels, so in that sense the dance feels really good for all of us because it is uniquely suited for the group,” Logue said.

Students have been rehearsing for the show since September. Rehearsals for dances show are unique. Instead of practicing lines, students learn or help develop choreography. The rehearsals also focused on building group dynamics.

“We would have exercises where we would be connecting with each other. So, all seven [of] us would be connected, making eye contact, and then go throughout the room, maintaining that connection. I think that has really helped us all together as a group to have this cohesive vibe, which has been fun to build,” Logue said.

While this is Logue’s first exposure to dance performance, other students auditioned with years of experience under their belts.

This is Logue's first year of dancing. Photo by Marra Clay.
This is Logue’s time working with dancer performance. Photo by Marra Clay.

“I really love dance, I’ve been dancing my whole life, pretty much since I was four. Taking classes is great, but there is something about preparing for performances that is different. It’s a good distraction from school work, but a healthy one,” junior Emily Carrick said.

Carrick has been dancing on campus since her first year, taking as many classes as possible. She has witnessed changes in the dance program, as Renée Archibald was hired and as the program continues to expand. Both the expansion of the dance program and performance opportunities like this one have stoked Carrick’s interest in a dance career after college.

“I definitely want to keep dancing my whole life as long as I am physically able. I have been interested in dance therapy and it’s something I am looking into. Possibly after college, I can boost my dance skills so that I can go back to school to do dance therapy,” Carrick said.

“Actually Just Kind of and Almost” represents months of energy spent by students to make five pieces come alive. This weekend, join the theater and dance department at Harper Joy Theater.

Emily Carrick during the rehearsals. The show premiers this upcoming weekend. Photo by Marra Clay.
Emily Carrick during the rehearsals. The show premiers this upcoming weekend. Photo by Marra Clay.