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Student ballet showcased in ‘Ballet at the BCT: The Choreography Project’



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A dancer is lifted by a dancer Wednesday during “Ballet at the BCT” in the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. The dance was called, “Winter Sun,” written by Bradley Streetman. Colin Kulpa Buy Photos

Ballet majors from the Jacob School of Music danced, leaped, crawled, rolled and jumped on the stage Tuesday night at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater.

The show, titled “Ballet at the BCT: The Choreography Project,” contained 21 different dances choreographed and performed by students. The dances ranged from jazzy, contemporary pieces to traditional ballet routines.

One of the pieces, “Might as Well,” featured an original song composed by former music school student George Schatzlein.

The dance was choreographed by Claire Donovan and featured four dancers jumping, making repetitive movements and swaying in a circle while Schatzlein strummed his guitar.

The 21 student-choreographed dances were chosen by the ballet professors out of 28 submitted pieces.

Originally, there were only supposed to be 20, but the professors decided to add one more.

The dances are selected based on a specific score given by the professors, and the ones with the highest scores got to be featured in the performance. One of the dances scored just below the mark, however the professors decided the dance had to be included, said associate professor of music in ballet Carla Körbes.

“There were supposed to be 20 because we don’t have that much time in the theater, but we couldn’t cut it,” Körbes said. “I was like, ‘Uh uh, we need this in.’ So, it’s in.”

After the pieces were judged and selected for this showcase, the dancers and student choreographers had two weeks to finalize the dance and prepare for the showcase, a long time by professional ballet standards.

“In the ballet world, people work really fast," Körbes said. "You don’t have the luxury of rehearsing things for months. So, the fact that sometimes we push them to get it together sooner is part of their education.”

In addition to choreographing the dances, those with selected pieces also had to select lighting, costumes and dancers for their pieces. Then, choreographers had to coach their cast into getting the pieces just right.

The choreographers also could dance in the showcase. In fact, 19 of the choreographers also danced at least once during the showcase.

Before the show began, ballet professor Michael Vernon gave a quick introduction to the show and the intimate nature of choreography to the audience.

“Choreography is a very particular art because it’s filled with steps, music, emotions, pictures and least of all are words," Vernon said. "So, what you will see is actually part of the dancer who choreographed it. There’s a slight part of them that will live on stage for each of the 21 ballets, so it’s a very special process.”

For the very last piece in the performance, “Link,” the performers executed a series of body rolls and soulful movements to the tune “Otis” by Kanye West and Jay-Z featuring Otis Redding.

Six dancers got in two lines of three people for the end of the song. Moving to the music, they exited stage right.

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