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IU Contemporary Dance brings 'New Moves' to the Wells-Metz Theatre



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The Student Choreographers Showcase is rehearsing nearly every night this week at Wells-Metz Theatre for future shows. The students practice for hours to get their moves correct.  Alex Deryn Buy Photos

IU Contemporary Dance will perform its New Moves showcase at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday in the Wells-Metz Theatre. The show features choreographed works by students in the contemporary dance program. 

Senior Gracie Black’s piece is called “Elapsed Time” and features nine dancers, ranging from freshmen to juniors. 

Black said she was focused on the movement qualities she wanted. She was influenced by the dancers’ specific movements, and she didn’t want to choreograph something that didn’t look good on the dancers. 

Black said she had picked out some of the choreography before the music, and she said a challenging part about the piece was going in without intention, but rather an aesthetic. 

“Every process of mine has been kind of different,” Black said. 

Contemporary dance means different things to different people, Director Nyama McCarthy-Brown said. Contemporary dance evolves from the modern tradition and is a 21st century expression of modern dance, she said. 

McCarthy-Brown said she acts as a guide for the show. She said she wants the seniors to produce as much of the show and get as much production experience as possible. The students curate the show and each student is assigned a different task in the production, whether it's helping with music, costuming or stage managing. She said they don’t want students missing out on engaging with theatrical and productions aspects. 

Each student takes their own creative path when choreographing their dance, McCarthy-Brown said. Some students come in with an idea in mind, and some have a structure and the work deviates from that. 

As with any piece of art, what you come up with at the end in the dance isn’t like what you started with, she said. You’re informed by factors, like your work, costume and space constraints, and casting. 

“Part of art-making is shape-shifting and flexibility,” she said. 

The stage of the Wells-Metz Theatre is surrounded on three sides by audience members. Black said one of the challenging parts of choreographing the dance was choreographing it in rounds. It’s different to be seen from all sides, she said. 

In addition to the seniors choreographing their own pieces, two guest artists, Alex Ketley and Adriane Fang, have written two dances for the seniors to perform themselves, McCarthy-Brown said. 

From her experience with choreographing, Black said she learned not to trap herself in a box with her own ideas. She has a specific idea of what the piece will be going into it, and she also said she learned to allow growth to happen in the process.

When in a rehearsal space, Black found it a challenge to see her own piece in its entirety. She likes to see the piece with costumes and lighting in a stage space. She said she had an idea in her head, but likes to see the final product. 

“I like to see the culmination of everything,” Black said. 

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