Dressing up a dance performance

Katie Wilber

The University’s dance students are learning about more than choreography these days.

A few, it would seem, are majoring in ticket sales.

For their sixth annual spring show, dancers are put in charge of more than dancing. They must sell tickets, design lighting and work with sound.

“Catalyst: New Dance Works by University of Minnesota Students” presents six works from freshman to senior choreographers. The show lets them create, produce and play a part in a made-from-scratch performance.

Two students are learning about the process by stepping backstage.

Sophomore Emily King danced in last year’s production. But now she’s making sure that this year’s dancers have an audience.

She’s taking the dance productions course that, along with the Student Dance Coalition, produces the spring show. King is on the marketing committee, which focuses on designing and distributing promotional materials and setting up the lobby for the performances.

“It’s incredibly different,” King said. “As a dancer last year, I only focused on what my choreographer told me. Now I have to have a more thorough view of the project.”

This is sophomore Kendra Heithoff’s first year working on the Student Dance Coalition’s production. Bachelor of Fine Arts students are required to be a part of the Dance Production class, and Heithoff figured it would be the most beneficial if she took the class early in her undergraduate years.

“It’s a useful learning experience,” she said, “and it’ll come in handy for my senior year when it’s time to think about putting together my own production.”

Heithoff is on the technical committee, which makes sure that the lighting, sound and projection aspects run smoothly.

Everyone – from the students working with lighting to the students choreographing dances – gets feedback. Student choreographers presented their work to three local performers who acted as the adjudicators. The three gave tips and pointers to all the choreographers, even those whose work wasn’t accepted for the final production.

“The show is a chance for student artists to experiment,” King said. “It’s sort of a jumping-off point to get us into doing real work.”

For performers like King and Heithoff, it’s an entirely new experience to be behind the scenes instead of on stage.

“It’s hard,” King said. “It’s time-consuming, but we see what it actually takes to produce a show. It’s a learning environment, but it’s still a show.”

Heithoff said she respects the behind-the-scenes crew members now in a way she couldn’t have before.

“There’s a sense of pride behind all this,” she said. “They’re artists, too.”