BYU dancEnsemble unveils American contemporary society through Graham Brown’s ‘You’

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John Fox successfully auditioned for dancEnsemble and started practicing with other dancers under Graham Brown's instruction two days later. Fox says Brown is a new professor at BYU and his choreography is uniquely different from other professors. (Photo courtesy of BYU Department of Dance.)
danceEnsemble will perform in the Richards Building on Nov. 15 and 16. (Photo courtesy BYU Department of Dance)

Two years ago Graham Brown, new assistant professor of the BYU Department of Dance, first presented “You” in the Washington, D.C. area, and this year he brings his work back to BYU dancEnsemble on Nov. 15–16.

dancEnsemble is an annual dance concert presenting contemporary works of BYU faculties and students. This fall Brown, director of dancEnsemble, reviewed one of his old works by “offering out the many scenes of the show” to dancers and created dance pieces based on contributions of the whole dance crew.

“For this, my first concert as director of dancEnsemble, I wanted to reset the work, but in a manner befitting of the unique student choreography-focused mission of the company,” Brown said.

John Fox, a humanity major from Albuquerque, N.M., has passion for performing and decided to audition for dancEnsemble. Two days after the audition, Fox started practicing with other dancers. Fox said Brown used the theme “You” to understand different cultures and life experiences of each individual in the society and how each individual connected to one another.

“That’s kind of how we’re exploring in this show. We’re looking at the life of an individual and how that individual is part of the society but we don’t realize it,” said Fox, a humanity major from Albuquerque, N.M.

Brown keeps the structural and thematic elements of his work and asks students to participate in the choreographic process.

“We became a dynamic, creative team working separately on our segments of the show under my overall direction and mentorship,” Brown said.

Brown choreographed two pieces and let students come up with the choreography for the rest of the show. Fox said he enjoyed working with Brown because Brown gave dancers freedom to express their own perspectives and emotions through choreography.

“Like in one piece, the first piece, we all came up with our own movements, and then we all put our movements together,” Fox said. “We became creative, and we reunified the movements. It’s really cool.”

Fox hopes students who come to the show can somehow relate themselves to the theme of dancEnsemble.

“One thing that sets dancEnsemble (apart)  from other groups is dancEnsemble has so much student participations,” Fox said. “We have students choreographing. We have students in charge of movements. Really we can see the pulse of the campus and the pulse of the contemporary dance community at our age in this work.”

dancEnseble will perform Friday and Saturday, Nov. 15–16, at 7:30 p.m. in the Richards Building Auditorium. There will also be a Saturday matinee show at 2 p.m. Tickets are $6 and can be purchased at the Fine Arts Ticket Office, (801) 422-2981, or at byuarts.com/tickets.

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