Students aim to bring modern dance to IU

Jamie Dowd and Ricardo Alvarez are preparing for their finals. The culmination of their studies at IU comes in the shape of a dance production; produced by them, danced by them, financed by them and designed by them. While most students might study countless hours for exams, Dowd and Alvarez said they have each spent more than 500 hours on this production, hoping to bring modern dance back to the IU community in this free venue. \n"I consider this an opportunity to share art, a new way of looking at things, the beauty and potential of new frontiers in interdisciplinary art forms, a presence for aspiring artists, an opportunity to share with people who are not of the arts a moment of thought, and to inspire young artists who are just beginning their journey to keep their heads up and hopes high," Alvarez said.\nDowd began planning the event in January and said she hardly finds time for anything else. She described how she spent her previous night in these scarce and few days before the performance. \n"I got home at 2:30 in the morning after working on the programs, and the composer (Adam Schweigert) called me to let me know the music was done." Dowd said. "I went there and listened to the compilation and then went back to Ricky's and listened to it with the choreography. Then I got home at five in the morning and had to be back at the (Buskirk-Chumley) by eight. All I want is a shower."\nAt 8 p.m. today at the Buskirk-Chumley Theatre, 114 E. Kirkwood Ave., the lights will dim, and the crowd will hush as 12 dancers take to the stage and perform a medley of modern dance delicacies. Dowd and Alvarez are both Individualized Major Program Dance majors, and are getting ready to graduate this May. The other 10 dancers are all dance minors at IU, none of whom are paid or receiving college credit for their dancing. \n"We really wanted to create the atmosphere of a dance company or a cast of dancers for this show," Dowd said.\nDowd and Alvarez put every piece together in this production. Including the choreography, creation of the multi-media set backdrop, making the dance programs and configuring the lighting. \nThe two also generated all the publicity through friends, fliers and press releases. Alvarez said it's been an exhausting semester for them both, but their friendship seems to really pull them together. \n"What I think has aided Jamie and I has been our ambition." Alvarez said. "We are both very passionate and driven people. It's been wonderful accepting all the complimenting elements we both have contributed to this large scale project. With that, we have also been each other's source of motivation and support."\nClinical Assistant Professor and Coordinator for the IU Contemporary Dance Program Elizabeth Shea said she has worked with both Dowd and Alvarez through the years in the IMP program. She has been their mentor through this entire project and, along with other contemporary dance faculty in the Department of Kinesiology, has supported Dowd and Alvarez wholeheartedly from the beginning.\n"Ricky and Jamie had a clear vision of what they wanted to do from the beginning," Shea said. "Both of them are very talented and experienced, and my job is simply to help guide them, so they can realize their vision. This idea was born a year ago, and it really should be a wonderful show. I hope the student body will show support for their efforts."\nDowd and Alvarez raised all the money needed to put on this production by themselves. They were able to raise enough money to not spare any expense through private contributors and by winning the Hutton Honors College research Grant. Alvarez also won the 2004-05 Hispanic Scholarship Fund/McNamara Family Creative Arts Project Grant Fellow. \nThis Friday the Buskirk-Chumley might be packed. If it's not, Dowd and Alvarez said they will still keep the same spirit and bright attitude about their mission. \n"I do not consider numbers (of the audience) to really be the most significant," Alvarez said. "The only that I think matters most about that night is if someone can walk way from that evening say simply, 'wow, that was cool.' We're not expecting to reinvent the wheel, but definitely to speak out to others and be received."\n-- Contact Staff Writer Gillian Hurley at

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