Dance Theatre offers artistic dance program to students
April 11, 2014
UW-River Falls Dance Theatre has been around for 30 years and is the only modern dance company in the area that brings an artistic dance program to students who love to dance.
With an idea that sparked from Communication Studies and Theatre Arts professor Karla Zhe, the organization starts rehearsals in October and works towards the spring concert, which usually takes place in April. This year, the concert ran from April 2 to the 5 and contained several different dance pieces such as the Brazilian modern fusion section and variations of hip-hop with modern dance.
Mari Kline-Kluck, ad-hoc instructor in communication studies and theatre arts, was the co-director and artistic director this year. With her involvement in being co-director in Dance Theater for the past 10 years, Kline-Kluck said in a phone interview that there is no experience necessary and that the group looks for a variety of people with different backgrounds. The only “requirement” they ask for at auditions is a love to dance. Dance Theater is run like a professional dance company, it is nothing like the dance team on campus because there are no repetitious routines or competitions.
On average they have a group of 30 individuals that make up the company, both men and women dance or help in the production of getting everything organized and set up. The performances are very diverse and can range from silly, to fun and to serious. Students choreograph the entire show, and decide on what they want their dance to portray. To be a choreographer though the student has had to have been in dance classes and involved in the company for at least a year. The company also has a strong involvement in the River Falls community.
“We certainly try to get involved on campus and in the community by taking part in homecoming activities, Relay 4 Life, Unity in the Community, an annual dance festival for students from surrounding areas and many other activities throughout the year,” Kline-Kluck said.
Morgan Stevens is a senior this year and is in her second year in Dance Theater. She did not have any prior dance experience before joining, besides her involvement in two high school musicals.
“I love our dance theatre group! We are such a family, and there is so much love, care, and support for each other. We were all very connected this year,” Stevens said.
There are no major roles, everyone is treated as an equal. Stevens said that she feels no sense of competition between her and other members. The company is a stepping stone for those who want to pursue dance as a career, be it a teacher or on stage. Dance Theater strives to provide rich dance experiences and performances for River Falls and surrounding communities.
This year’s spring production featured two professional guest artists from the Twin Cities. Marciano Silva dos Santos, the director of Contempo Physical Dance, had his piece, “Rush,” performed by the dancers at the concert. Second is Whitney McClusky who is a director of Duniya Drum and Dance that features West African drum and dance. The piece Dance Theater featured was her piece called “Yankadi and Yamama” from Guinea, West Africa.
“Honestly the devotion students have each year shocks me, it’s amazing what they are able to pull off,” Kline-Kluck said.
Tryouts are usually near the end of September, and members will work with students interested throughout the year to help them become better and raise their confidence. It is a time commitment, but Stevens said do not let that scare you away, you will not find a better, more supportive group of people.
“Dance Theatre is all about dancing out our feelings. Every piece has a point, a concept, and a story,” Stevens said. “It’s fun to look in-depth and try to figure out what the choreographer is trying to say and feel through the dance.”