Modern dancers to present pieces of free expression


    By Alecia Burningham

    These were the kids who colored outside of the lines, and as dancers they still value freedom in creative expression.

    Dancensemble, a modern dance group, will perform this week. Dancensemble”s function is to provide a forum for students to create and perform their own works, said Pat Debenham, artistic director for Dancensemble.

    “I love to see what the students create because they all have a different point of view on what is important and who they are,” Debenham said. “This is brought out in their choreography.”

    Students have choreographed most of the numbers, though the faculty has contributed as well. Debenham created two pieces and Becky Phillips, a faculty member in the dance department, choreographed one piece that includes seven footballs.

    “The balls create a magical environment where a child has a chance to play and explore the world,” Debenham said.

    Richie Franklin, 21, a junior from Houston, Texas, majoring in music dance theater, will dance in Debenham”s piece “Autumn.”

    Franklin enjoys dancing both his own choreography and other”s as well.

    “In your own choreographed piece you can move the way you want to, whatever feels comfortable,” he said. “When other people choreograph, it is like trying on other people”s clothes and it is fun because you have to make it look good and work.”

    Franklin said he loves how expressive modern dance allows him to be.

    “Ballet is the math of dance and modern is the English of dance,” he said. “There is no right answer and you can move however you want.”

    Despite many years studying ballet and jazz, Rhonda Rooker said modern dance has freed up her body in a way she has never experienced before. Rooker, 23, a senior from Spokane, Wash., majoring in modern dance, choreographed her own solo for the performance.

    “I don”t think it is as hard as people think,” she said. “Modern dance is all about finding everything your body can do and doing it.”

    The first step in choreographing a number is to develop a concept, Rooker said.

    Rooker”s concept for her solo is a tribute to her grandmother, who passed away around Christmas time. She choose classical chamber music to accompany the dance because her sisters played a violin, piano and cello trio at her grandmother”s funeral.

    Once Rooker chose her concept, the next step was to go to the studio and just move. Rooker developed sequences, transitions and improvised.

    “I”ll just start moving in a way that shows what the concept means to me and often I”ll find symbolic meaning in the movement I didn”t intend,” she said.

    Movements in Rooker”s solo are meant to represent her grandmother”s traits.

    “An athletic movement that takes a lot of strength is symbolic of her strength,” she said.

    Rooker”s solo makes her feel extremely vulnerable because she choreographed and is performing it herself.

    “Dance gives you the ability to say things that you can”t say any other way,” she said. “Dance presents communication in such a vulnerable way because you never know if people are going to accept it or not.”

    Vocal Point and the BYU Harp Ensemble will accompany some of the dance numbers.

    “Live music in a concert moves it into a place I think is more magical than when dance is accompanied by electronic music,” Debenham said.

    Dancensemble will perform Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m. in 166 RB. Tickets are $4 and can be purchased at either the Fine Arts Ticket Office or at the door.

    “These are innovative, modern dance pieces and their structure and content communicate the sheer joy of movement,” Debenham said.

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