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Tuesday, May 28
The Indiana Daily Student

arts jacobs school of music

‘The Choreography Project’ showcases artistic performances choreographed by Jacobs ballet students


Elizabeth Burnett has been dancing ballet for eighteen years. Now, as a student in the Jacobs School of Music Ballet Department, Burnett has spent months creating, choreographing and rehearsing her first piece. At 7:30 p.m. April 23, the dance would finally make it onto the stage as part of “The Choreography Project,” held in the Musical Arts Center.  

Burnett was one of 18 ballet students to have their work debut at one of “The Choreography Project,” presented by the Jacobs School of Music Ballet Department. Each ballet student must take the course two times and choreograph two different dances during their academic career. More student pieces would be previewed on the second evening of The Choreography Project, 7:30-9:30 p.m., April 24 in the Musical Arts Center. 

After the dress rehearsal the afternoon of the show, Burnett reflected on her experience leading up to the night’s debut. She said she always kept the best interests of her dancers in mind. 

“Things look different in your head than they do on the dancers,” Burnett said. “My main goal was keeping the dancers’ strengths in mind when I was choreographing for them. It was not just steps that I liked, but that would highlight what they are good at.” 

Students participating in “The Choreography Project” had creative freedom, Burnett said. They could choose to convey a story or make a dance inspired by the music. Students were even able to choose their own lighting and work with the sound team. Burnett said it really felt like she was putting on her own production.  

“I’d never choreographed before,” Burnett said. “I’ve always just danced. Obviously, it was required, so I had to, but I’ve surprisingly liked it more than I thought I would.”  

As the time neared the beginning of the first evening’s show, audience members dodged the light April evening showers and trickled into the Musical Arts Center. Just after 7:30 p.m., Sasha Janes, professor of ballet and program coordinator, made brief opening remarks. The rich amethyst-colored curtain was raised, and the show began.  

The first evening of “The Choreography Project” opened with “Ritualia Sanctae Mortis,” choreographed by IU sophomore Elias Simpson. The music, “Prelude and Fugue in C Minor, BWV 847” and “Prelude and C Minor, BWV 871” from “The Well Tempered Clavier” composed by Johann Sebastian Bach. IU freshman Kaito Aihara played the two Bach compositions on the harpsichord and performed during parts of the dance.  

As each number concluded, the lights would dim before brightening again and the choreographers would step onto the stage to take a bow with their dancers. Each piece was different, showcasing the interests and personalities of each choreographer and their dancers. Numbers consisted of anywhere from two to nine dancers dressed in flannels to skirted pastel leotards. Some choreographers embraced more classical styles while others chose more contemporary styles of dance.  

The show was split by a brief ten-minute intermission; the second act ended with “Clair De Lune,” choreographed by IU sophomore Trey Ferdyn and music from “Suite bergamasque” composed by Claude Debussy. As the final eight dancers took a bow, friends and family of the students made their way into the lobby to greet the choreographers and dancers to congratulate them on the completion of the show.  

Missy Sutherland travelled from Fort Wayne to see her freshman daughter, Hannah Reiff, perform. Reiff’s two sisters tagged along. Sutherland chuckled while talking about packing, driving over three hours and staying the night to see her daughter on stage for just a few minutes, but she said it was worth it every time.  

“It always makes me happy to watch her dance,” Sutherland said.  

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