The official blog of the Muhlenberg Theatre & Dance Department
www.muhlenberg.edu/theatre&dance

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I finally finished my piece for the First Pieces concert! I don’t know why, but all of my best dance ideas come to me right as I close my eyes and snuggle up under the covers. Usually, I think about it for a few moments and decide if it is worth writing down, which it usually is, because like I said, they always end up being my best thoughts. Some people do their best thinking on the toilet, I guess fate just really doesn’t want me to sleep. Because of this, I started keeping my dance notebook on a desk right under my bed, so I don’t even have to get out of bed to reach it. That brilliant idea came to me after one night when ideas just kept coming and I got out of and back into my bed about four times. One of my childhood dance teachers gave me the idea of having a notebook set aside just for dance ideas, because she always said you never know when you will get inspired.

And this weekend was full of inspiration. On Thursday night I attended the annual production of student works called Dance Emerge. I was able to attend on opening night, when the energy is most vivacious, and the dancers are eager to perform all that they have been working on. It was fascinating to see how choreographers changed just from last semester’s Informal Dance Concert to this one. Some students worked in completely different styles, and others are really beginning to make their mark in a certain genre. Watching Dance Emerge I felt excited to see my own choreographic endeavor hit the stage in only two short weeks!

 Because of Dance Emerge, I had to reschedule my rehearsal to Friday afternoon right before a mandatory modern master class. A few of my dancers were also in Dance Emerge, so I knew that we wouldn’t be running the piece full out at all. But, I made the best of the situation and experimented with the ending that I had come up with in bed the night before. Magically, the last chord of music hit just as they were melting into the final movements; I couldn’t have asked for better timing. But I don’t want to jinx myself! Today, my senior choreographic mentor, Annie, arranged a meeting for me to work with one of her friends, Ben, who is a GarageBand genius. I needed his help because my piece uses two different sections of music, and I needed to put them together on one track and add a cross-fade to connect them. I clicked on GarageBand for the first time a few nights ago, and basically just stared at the screen. I did manage to drag both tracks in, but when I tried to merge them, a chunk of one disappeared and then they were both playing at the same time. It was a failure, and so I asked Annie to help. Ben was a wiz; he merged my songs in about 15 minutes, and now I have a (hopefully) finished track! I say hopefully because my next rehearsal is Wednesday, and I don’t want to get too excited until I make sure that it works with my dancers. This weekend was full of dance excitement, as I am sure these next two weeks will be as well.

Circus Workshop rehearsals, photos courtesy of Noah Dach

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This past Sunday was the showing for the Freshman First Pieces Concert. A showing is when all of the choreographers, dancers, production manager and artistic director sit down together and watch the pieces for the first time. My fellow choreographers and I were experiencing every emotion under the sun: nervousness, excitement, fear, and pride. We were about to exhibit our first of hopefully many works of our Muhlenberg careers! Finally all of us gathered in the Dance Studio Theatre, which functions as both an everyday studio and a performance venue for the smaller, more intimate showcases.

My favorite part about showings is getting the opportunity to see my fellow dancers outside of class. As much as we push ourselves to dance bigger and better every day, there is always an added spark when people are dancing for an audience. It was wonderful to see my friends move in ways that I had never seen them move before. After the last piece had finished, my fellow choreographer Emily turned to me and said, “Wow, this is going to be a good show!”

After the pieces had been shown, all of the choreographers were given individual feedback from our artistic director, as well as three senior MDA board members. This year, the artistic director of Freshman First Pieces is Megan Flynn, the newest addition to the faculty here. I actually had Megan as a ballet teacher for Dance Technique and Performance last semester, and it is exciting to be taking this journey of firsts together. Each freshman choreographer was assigned a senior mentor who has taken advanced dance composition and serves on the Muhlenberg Dance Association board, and at the showing they had some really valuable things to say. A piece of advice that really stuck out to me was when Ally Berger, one of the senior mentors, said, “You have a lot of vocabulary, but is it in the same dictionary?” Thinking about movement this way really blew my mind.

This past weekend was also the Senior Showcase, a venue for graduating students to perform originally choreographed solos. The performances were daring and emotional; we certainly have big shoes to fill.

Cool! Behind-the-scenes video of rehearsals for the Circus Workshop, coming up in April.

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Curious about our bloggers? Want to know more about them? Check out their blogger bios on our website: http://www.muhlenberg.edu/main/academics/theatre-dance/aboutUs/Spring2014Bloggers.html

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Hi everyone! My name is Jillian, and I will be blogging about Muhlenberg’s annual production of The Library. The Library is a production featuring Muhlenberg students that is presented by the Institute of Jewish-Christian Understanding. It performs as part of the annual Youth and Prejudice Conference, where middle school students from all over the Lehigh Valley and surrounding areas come to Muhlenberg to see the show and attend talkback and discussion sessions about bullying and prejudice. The show tells the story of a girl named Rachel, who is a middle school student growing up in Nazi Germany during the 1930s, and how her life changed due to the laws and regulations that the new political party was putting into effect. It focuses mostly on social persecution from her peers, but also follows her family life and how her role changes in the community. In this year’s production, I am playing Rachel!

The Youth and Prejudice Conference is on April 9th and 10th this year, so that is when the middle school students will attend the show at Muhlenberg. It is held in the Empie Theatre, which is the largest theatre we have on campus. However, there is one big change this year. So many schools wanted to be involved that we are actually taking The Library on the road to an additional middle school the week after the conference so that more people can see it. This is sure to be a unique experience and I am really looking forward to the opportunity!

Right now, we have had a few rehearsals and are in the process of blocking the show. We only have about a week and a half until our first showing for some facilitators and faculty, so we are all working hard to get off book and get the show on its feet! I can’t wait to keep you all updated on what comes next and to post some pictures from our rehearsal process.

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Tonight is my first rehearsal with my senior choreographic mentor, Annie. This semester, I am choreographing my first-ever piece at Muhlenberg, as part of the first-ever Freshman First Pieces concert. That’s a lot of firsts. So let me explain: In the past, Muhlenberg has produced an Informal Dance Concert every semester, along with Moving Stories, which occurs in the fall, and Master Choreographers and Dance Emerge, which both occur in the spring. The Informal Concert is for new choreographers, who are just getting their feet wet, and may or may not have formal dance composition training. Mainly, it is a forum for underclassmen to showcase their work. This spring, however, over thirty students submitted choreographic proposals, a much higher number than expected. So, in order to let everyone’s artistic visions come to life, a new concert idea was conceived. Welcome Freshmen First Pieces! So, since I am a freshman, my piece will be performed at this concert, which will be recurring every spring semester, around the same time as Informal.

This process has been new and exciting, and completely different from anything I did in high school. In the past, I have choreographed pieces that I have danced in, but now that is not the case. It is crazy to think that, at the end of this process, my name will appear as a choreographer in the program, and not as a performer. My rehearsal is in a few hours, and I could not be more excited for Annie to see it! We just picked out tentative costumes last week, and tonight will be the first time I will see the dancers move in them. I am very excited to receive feedback, because our first showing is next week, and the concert is only a month away!

Here’ a glimpse of this week’s NEW VISIONS Emerging Artists Festival, opening Wednesday.

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HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to choreographer CHARLOTTE BOYE-CHRISTENSEN and to dancers ALLISON BERGER ‘14, KATE DOUGHERTY ‘14, GWYNNE JONES ‘15, KRYSTA PARKER ‘16, and ANNABEL WILLIAMS ‘14.

Charlotte’s piece “Key” has been selected for the National American College Dance Festival (ACDF) at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. “Key” was presented on the Master Choreographers concert this past February and performed for adjudication this past weekend at the Northeast ACDFA Conference, held at SUNY Brockport.

Only 31 of the 506 adjudicated dance works were selected for performance at the National Festival, June 5-7.This is the fifth time the Muhlenberg College Dance program has been selected for the honor.

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This past Friday, the Circus Workshop had its first showing with various faculty members. It was very exciting and satisfying to share the work we had been doing with our professors. The showing ran like a regular rehearsal would, with all the separate groups working on the different pieces of scenes that will eventually be put together when we get to the staging rehearsals.

The aerialists weren’t called until about an hour into the rehearsal, but I decided to come in early and watch the other groups present their work. It was nice to sit back and be a viewer rather than a performer and to get a chance to watch all the different groups’ hard work. The pieces are not entirely polished, which at this stage in the rehearsal process, is totally fine.  But everyone is working so hard and it’s really showing. There is so much love being put into this project and as an audience member it is easy to see. Everything about this project is completely new to the college, the creative team, and the performers but everyone is taking in the process and experience with open arms.

I think it’s safe to say that the professors who came out to watch the rehearsal were very pleased with the project. It can sometimes feel like we’re swimming in open water with no land to grab on to, but the approval of the faculty was absolute reassurance that we are swimming in the right direction.