Fall New Dances: Creativity Shines in New Pieces

Fall New Dances Premieres Upperclassmen Work


Photo courtesy of Tim Coburn

The dancers, 11 women dressed in black, walked onto the stage. They crowded so close together you couldn’t tell where each person began and ended. As the dancers lumped together, they began to shake — their arms, legs and hair flying up and down. The women began to move across the stage, still shaking and connected, until the tempo in the music sped up and they finally separated to dance alone.

This piece, titled “Drink Some of My Brain,” premiered as part of the Fall New Dances performance held by the School of Dance from Nov. 7-9 in Harris Theater. The event is held every semester to give upperclassmen students the opportunity to cast, choreograph and design their own pieces. 

“If you can have nothing and then make something, and people come and see it and experience it from beginning to end  — that whole process,” said Susan Shields, the director of the School of Dance, “You can pretty much do anything.”

The pieces featured in “Fall New Dances” this year ranged in both mood and set, from the dark set of fearful students to the loud clock noises illustrating the progression of time to the blue, patterned summer dresses worn in pursuit of sharing the feeling of a New York summer.. 

The training students receive from the School of Dance is intense. Only 20 dancers are accepted into the program each year.

Besides rehearsing for “Fall New Dances” or any other performances they are cast in, all of the dancers have two classes per day. Shields said students might go to a basketball game or spend some time with friends occasionally, but for the most part they are in the studio working on their dancing.

Within the program can be found a strong community. Professors are invested in the success of their students, stressing one-on-one instructional time. Meanwhile, other dancers serve as mentors. Upperclassmen help underclassmen when they see that they are struggling, while still keeping a healthy competitive spirit alive in the program.

“Dance for me is a mode of communication, or a means of communication,” junior choreographer Holly Harkin said. “And, often, my most effective means of communication. To be able to go into something that you really, really love and put your all into it, and then feel really seen afterwards, is an incredible feeling that I don’t think … a lot of people get to have.”