UCA presents annual Fall Dance Concert: “The Human Condition of Dance”

Sierra Cymes

“The Human Condition of Dance” acts as the theme for this year’s Fall Dance Concert which will premiere at the University Center for the Arts at 8 p.m. Friday.

“Well, [the human condition is] who we are,” said Jane Slusarski-Harris, the director and coordinator for the concert. “We move through life and we have to be able to communicate and creatively think outside of the box and understand how things work.”

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Dancers prepare for their recitals this weekend in a dress rehersal. Colorado State University's dance program presents its annual Fall Dance Concert on Friday and Saturday. (Photo Credit: Megan Fischer)
Dancers prepare for their recitals this weekend in a dress rehersal. Colorado State University’s dance program presents its annual Fall Dance Concert on Friday and Saturday. (Photo Credit: Megan Fischer)

Slusarski-Harris says the nine pieces in the concert represent being able to collaborate and communicate with others, involving the physical, mental, cognitive and creative self.

“I like to see how it all comes out and what each individual student comes up with  how they grow, how they develop either as choreographers or as performers or as designers or stage managers,” Slusarski-Harris said. “That’s why I’m here, that’s why I’ve been here. Because I love to see how that develops and how that happens for each new crop of students that come through.”

There are six pieces that are student-choreographed, with one of them coming from senior performing arts major Samantha Purdy. Her upbeat piece entitled “Dirty Side of the Street” showcases 15 dancers as circus characters from the 1920s.

“It’s mostly a filter of all different characters coming onstage, it’s really just showing their talents,” Purdy said. “So I have, like, a variety of characters; there’s a group of cabaret girls, there’s a cyclops, there’s a woman on stilts, there’s a ring leader, there’s two mimes.”

Dancers prepare for their recitals this weekend in a dress rehersal. Colorado State University's dance program presents its annual Fall Dance Concert on Friday and Saturday. (Photo Credit: Megan Fischer)
Dancers prepare for their recitals this weekend in a dress rehersal. Colorado State University’s dance program presents its annual Fall Dance Concert on Friday and Saturday. (Photo Credit: Megan Fischer)

Under the direction of Purdy, her 15 dancers entertain the audience with comical grins and larger-than-life costumes. The piece is inspired by the music; a mix of old jazz and electronic music.

“I wanted to give the audience a break from the serious and meaningful pieces,” Purdy said.

A dance that deals with the feeling of flight, “Flocking,” comes from a guest artist, faculty choreographer Judy Bejarano.

“As the title implies, it’s sort of a flocking of birds influenced by movement,” Bejarano said. “They create the movement, but they’re also influenced by it. So the sense of the wind causes the group to change directions and there’s that sense of community. And the piece kind of talks about clarity; our clarity, our understanding, that sometimes is very clear. But everything that we feel right now will pass.”

Bejarano and her students have been working on the piece since September.

“I did love working with these guys because they’re really enthusiastic. They’re funny, you know, I just like them,” Bejerano said. “I just appreciate the professionalism, but also their youth, their excitement and seeing how they’ve grown through the process of the rehearsals.”

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Bejarano says that her students have done a great job of getting out of “performance mode” and into the deeper relationship between movement and authenticity without the pressure of performing each step in a certain way.

“The technical piece is very important to me, but also what interests me in watching dance is the human element,” Bejarano said. “Some dances are all about defying gravity and being magical. But in my work I love feeling the human connection between the dancers and so I ask that of them.”

Tickets for the Fall Dance Concert can be bought by calling the UCA box office or online at CSUArtsTickets.com. In addition to Friday’s show, there will be a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday, before another 8 p.m. showing.

Collegian A&E Writer Sierra Cymes can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @sierra_cymes.