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Yesterday was the last day of our University Dance Theater’s Dance Revolutions concert. It’s the big hooplala for the dance program. The pic is of the piece I’m in. I’m the one in the front left most downstage (which in this case is closest to the body). The piece is called “Impetus” and is choreographed by Nathan Trice, a budding New York choreographer.

For those of you who don’t know much about dance, let me just say I am going to try to enlighten the experience of the performer in this context…what goes into making a 2 hour dance show that runs for 3 days.

It’s the first week of school, which correlates exactly to the first week of September this year. The dance majors (and some non-majors) crowd into a small, dark studio which is overly-crowded and full of anxiety and nerves as practically no one has prepared well enough to jump right back into the rigourous 1.5 hour class 4 days a week schedule that is Modern 7/5. Today, and for the rest of the week, we audition for our placement into which level of modern we are placed. Modern 7 is advanced modern, while Modern 5 is intermediate. By the third day, we start to feel it. Our hamstrings are tighter, legs feel heavier, but we feel stronger. The first week back is always a bitch…nothing feels good and you can only remember how good you were last May when you left. Why didn’t I dance at Zenon more over the summer?!

The first Saturday is the worst. It’s UDT auditions…if I don’t make it, I have no worth as a dance major, right? Why would I even want to be a dancer if I can’t make it into UDT?! I hope at least one of the choreographers likes me. I should wear something that makes me stand out…but I should try to dress ooshy gooshy because Bebe Miller will be there….omg, is Trisha Brown going to be there? I’m so nervous. We all get to the audition and hear Carl Flink, our “fearless leader” tell us about the process. 4 artists, 4 studios, 4 hours…and callbacks after. Intensity is key.

First on to Nathan Trice, an African American choreographer from New York with a military history and Alvin Ailey training. He sounds like Uri, like last year. Intensely physical, technical movement. Counts to six, long legs pointed feet, lines, etc. Fluidity through hyperphysicality. Balletic? Hortonish… 45 minutes. I think he liked me. He looked at me, and said good when I did a leg thing. He had me do it again too…that’s a good sign. Good way to warm up for the day.

Next on to Karen Sherman and Morgan Thorsen. Karen’s a New York choreographer and Morgan’s a Twin Cities choreographer. They’re life partners doing their first time collaboration. We start the audition with some theatrical improv. Much more comfortable audition. Then on to a hyper crazy phrase. Very physical, but different from Nathan’s phrase: more disjointed, more separated, more fragmented. They looked at me this time too. Good UDT thus far. Maybe I’ll get called back for this one too.

Next on to Bebe Miller’s piece. Erin Thompson, famous modern dancer and our teacher, is running the audition. We learn the phrases. Do them…I’m not as good at this one and I can tell. More monkey, and my legs were tired and sore and I couldn’t find my monkey…it was hard for me. It always is. Very beg, luscious movement. Beautiful even. Not sure about making this one.

Last audition with Trisha Brown. Will and Katrina, two former company members, are doing the audition. The piece is Set and Reset. We learn a phrase and start going. We get to do it twice in the 45 minutes. It’s hard to get into. Much less energy than the other pieces. Hard to do last after all the nerves. Trying to empty the body. We started with a great and fun movement improv, though. Very fun and ineresting.

Everyone’s done and now on to the callbacks. I made 2! Nathan’s and Karen and Morgan’s. Dance big and hard and show how well you can do it. Make them remember you. We don’t have time to review the phrases and must just jump in and do them again. I feel good about it. Wait til tuesday to see the cast list.

Tuesday is here, and I’m in Nathan’s piece! There are four guys, 3 seniors and a freshman…hooray, this piece seems the most diverse agewise. We don’t start rehearsals until end of October. I’ll jump ahead now to our rehearsals.

We show up on the first day, scared. We don’t know who the understudies are. This is still and audition. We learn a phrase. The final phrase of the piece. It takes over 2 hours. Nathan is a drill sergeant, to say the very least. Everything must be precise, the way he wants it. It’s intense. The next three weeks are much like this…hearing “no, no, no, again, no, no, no, again.” It never really feels good enough. We learn most of the material in the first week, then we find out who’s in the piece. It’s intense. I’m in! All the guys are in. We start setting it on Saturday. Finally, it seems less stressful. We don’t have to dance constantly. That first week was as sore as I’ve been in my life. I literally felt like a walking corpse. No energy and completely sore. I needed a massage every night just to fall asleep. I was a little pathetic.

The second week and third week were cleaning. Cleaning with Nathan equals running it and stopping every few seconds. Nothing is good enough. We can always do better, but we should not try to master it. We need to keep exploring. The final day is here and we have our showing! Finally, people get to see our hard work. it feels good. We wear our costumes, which makes the dance harder. The costume pulls on my hip hiker muscles causing my pelvis to tilt, which hurts my back and stomach. I have to compensate by flexing my abdominals constantly. Here we come six-pack.

After the showing, we have a few runs and rehearsals with Toni Pierce-Sands, but Nathan is gone. We leave for Winter break for a break. We come back and have rehearsal right away. It does not feel as good and easy as it did before. But we will get it back. The second run felt better. It just kept getting better.

Tech rehearsal times. Every night we’d have a run. We’re the last piece so we have to stay late each time. We have one 9-11 p.m. rehearsal on a Friday, which we find they’ve lost all the data on it the next day. The computer had an error and we had to re-record. A Friday night lost…which resulted in a Saturday sitting at the Rarig center for about 6 hours with nothing to do. Dress rehearsals went pretty well, but one of our dancers was sick. She got better for the show, though. Preview, opening night, kids show, saturday night, and sunday matinee and we’re done. Such a long process for such a short run. It’s sad and terrible to be over.

In conclusion, we rehearse, practice, audition, work hard for you to see 20-30 mintues of a piece. I hope you all appreciate it because it is truly what we love to do. I hope that shows also. The piece is killer, and I want to vomit each time I finish, but it’s worth it for the feeling of pure energy while doing it. Some pieces started rehearsing right away and their processes have been even longer. Just remember that a dancer’s process is so long and you should really appreciate a concert next time you go…if you’d never thought of it that way before.