It takes plenty more than “five-six-seven-eight” days to prepare for the event—in fact, it takes a whole semester.

Keene State College students in the dance classes Research in Choreography and Advanced Choreography, an independent study course, are now preparing for their debut.

Choreographers go over motions with their dancers.

Choreographers go over motions with their dancers.

Though the choreography showcase awaits them with months to come, these dancers have either auditioned for pieces, choreographed some of their own numbers, or have done both already.

The classes are taught by Professor William Seigh, and this is the first year two choreography classes are underway.

Auditions, according to senior Alexander Davis, were a lot of fun.

“I think auditions at a certain point in a dancer’s life need to stop being scary and need to start being opportunistic,” he said.

Davis is both a choreographer for his advanced choreography class and a dancer for fellow choreographers in the upcoming show.

What was a bit tricky, Davis said, was making sure the auditions were organized with so many people trying out and looking for performers.

Davis said it’s “hard to put together an audition that will showcase everything, that everybody is looking for and I think they [choreographers and dancers] did a really nice job of doing that.”

Dancer and choreographer Michelle Hayes said each showcase hopeful only had a few minutes to learn a dance before performing for everyone.

Choreographers go over motions with their dancers.

Dancers had to learn a “phrase,” or piece composed of an opening, middle, peak and closing, similar to a story, according to Davis.

Davis explained that students not only learned pieces in smaller groups, but had to perform their own improvisation during auditions.

In order to be chosen for Davis’ choreography piece, he “was looking for dancers who made choices. I’m really interested in performers who can consciously think about the movement and give it intention, and I was also looking for dancers who were grounded and knew their weight and how to use the floor to their advantage,” he said.

Upon casting her group, Hayes said she was “looking for someone who seemed to be fully present in trying their best and not giving up when something was difficult, and if it was difficult, how they overcame that.”

When asked details about the piece he is choreographing for the final show, Davis said, “I’m exploring the intersection between the questions ‘what is home and who is family?’ I’m going back to my roots and really exploring what it means to be at home and what it means to have a family and who those people are.”

Davis plans on doing this by searching and “digging deep,” but pointed out that his dancers will be doing the same for the dance number to bring even more to the final performance.

He plans on thinking differently and stepping out of his usual boundaries to go out of his zone of comfort to create something new and unique to his style.

The group Hayes is choreographing is made up of four dancers. She said most choreographers will set rehearsal times for about three hours weekly.

However, for each choreographer, many more hours are put into each week.

Hayes explained that these students will have to, of course, make up their own pieces and really understand the pieces themselves.

Finally, choreographers must think about how to express these motions to their dancers before even breaking down the movements to teach them.

“Dancers also bring their own personality and style to your choreography, so it’s really interesting to see how a dancer takes on someone else’s movement,” Hayes said. She hopes to learn more craftsmanship with choreography through the rehearsals and mentioned that choreographers may wind up with an end product much different than the idea they began with.

Both Davis and Hayes agreed that the dances will be a mold of how each group interacts with one another and the manner in which the dancers perform their motions. Davis said he is “interested in people, and I know that sounds general, but I really enjoy watching people react to situations and seeing how one moment can illicit so many different reactions and perspectives from other people. And that tends to be where I find inspiration, is within other humans and watching their humanity.” According to Davis, inspiration can be found in any place and from anyone.

KSC student Olivia Lynn, who auditioned for the showcase, said “dancing is a way to express myself when words or other actions can’t justify it. I’ve danced all my life, it’s just something I enjoy and I’m glad that I can continue at Keene.” Lynn said her inspiration to perform and create dances are life experiences.

Hayes said she enjoys being a part of another student’s piece as well as composing her own.

“I love rehearsal classes just because you learn a lot about yourself as a performer, and learning someone else’s movement is always a challenge because it’s not necessarily something that I naturally do. But that’s the fun part of it,” she said. As far as choreography goes, Hayes said it’s a thrill to work with her group and she looks forward to watching them perform the night of the showcase.

Hayes stressed that each participant works extremely hard and that to watch it all come together the night of the show will be worth the work.

The showcase will be a time “to remember where it started and the process,” Hayes said. Davis said he is anxious to watch the work of his fellow classmates because he adores watching all types of dance and new ways of dancing.

He said there is “something to learn from every piece of choreography, every dancer’s performance.”

The construction part of the dancing process is what Davis loves most. He said he finds joy in “watching something start with minimal movement and splash into a full piece.”

The splash, or transformation, will be on stage for all those to see Dec. 5 and 6 in the Mabel Brown Room, and the dancers are only just beginning their preparations for the show.



Brittany Ballantyne can be contacted at

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