CREATIVE PEAKS: In-house and Homemade

By on April 26, 2016

Dancers learn what it takes to stage a production, beginning to end.

Members of the Junior Repertory Company are selling prints they created on canvas, like this one of the seniors in the company, Bean Shindell, Sydney Bryan, Noelle Huser, and Dylan Anderson. (Photo: Dancers’ Workshop)

Members of the Junior Repertory Company are selling prints they created on canvas, like this one of the seniors in the company, Bean Shindell, Sydney Bryan, Noelle Huser, and Dylan Anderson. (Photo: Dancers’ Workshop)

JACKSON HOLE, WY – It is a rite of passage for every dancer at Dancers’ Workshop and it was something sophomore Hailey Barlow thought about for years. She contemplated the music, the movement, and even the inspiration.

Starting their sophomore year, members of the Junior Repertory Company choreograph their own dances set on fellow company members. They also shoulder all the work of putting on a full production from the lightning design to the advertising.

That effort comes to fruition this weekend in the New Dances/New Choreographers show, this year called “Reflections,” that runs this weekend.

“We really focus on making dancers complete artists,” said Cady Cox, co-director of the Junior Repertory Company.

Cox said it’s rare for dance students in high school to have opportunities to choreograph. For those that plan on pursuing dance after high school, the experience gives them an edge. It benefits all the dancers, giving them perspective on what it’s like to be on the other side of a production and helps them hone in on their own style.

“You become a better dancer when you are also a choreographer,” Cox said.

Students learn the basics of choreography in class before working on the performance pieces. The show features a pointe piece, several modern and contemporary pieces and even an acro dance piece showcasing the dancer’s flexibility.

This year many of the dances are introspective, Cox said.

Caroline Kucera, a sophomore at the Jackson Hole Community School, choreographed a piece inspired by self-deprecation, and how being hard on oneself can have toxic effects, Kucera explained. The contemporary piece features five dancers and movement Kucera describes as having a “heavy” quality to it. The dancers will perform in front of a mirror and at one point use it to size themselves up.

It was something all the dancers in the piece could relate to on some level, and she thinks it will resonate with the audience.

Choreographing the piece gave her a new skill set beyond learning just how to put movement together. She learned to make decisions, trust her gut, and take control of her rehearsals, she said.

Dancers also learn important skills applicable beyond dance, like how to write a press release and create an advertising plan, as well as lighting design and choosing music, said Lyndsey Larson, co-director of the company.

The students also created a photography fundraiser this year. They took photographs and printed them on canvas. The dance images are for sale and proceeds will benefit the company. The prints on canvas start at $100, and small photographs cost $25.

Studio No. 2 at Dancers’ Workshop opens at 5 p.m. Friday. It will be set up like a gallery with the photographs of the dancers on the walls for sale. Refreshments will also be served. In addition to the student pieces, the company will perform an athletic, high-energy piece created by guest choreographer Lawrence Jackson at 8 p.m. Friday and 6 p.m. Saturday. The senior dancers of the company will also unveil a surprise piece they created together.

As for Barlow, as a sophomore at Jackson Hole High School this year, she finally got to create the piece she’d thought about for years. Like she imagined, she decided to create a piece for only a few dancers. She also went with the style where she envisioned putting her dancers on pointe.

The piece is a contemporary trio and while the three dancers are on pointe, the style is far from traditional ballet, she said.

Her regular classes throughout her career at Dancers’ Workshop inspired the piece. Classes provide evaluations noting where students are excelling and how they can improve. Barlow received the same correction for years.

“They said, ‘take a risk, go beyond your boundaries,’” she said.

She stretched herself, taking creative risks as she created the piece she says is fast and dynamic.

While she’d envisioned her piece for years, she was surprised at how quickly the process moved and how complicated it can be creating movement to convey an idea

“I always imagined it simpler—like a leap and a kick,” she said. “Now, not so much. I have a lot more empathy for choreographers.” PJH

New Dances/New Choreographers “Reflections, 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday at Dancers’ Workshop Studio No. 1. $10 students, $25 adults.

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