Companydance to showcase year’s work

The energy and excitement of St. Olaf dance students radiated through Dittmann Center as they prepared for their spring concert.

Companydance is composed of students who are taking dance classes. Some are dance majors; some are not. Although Companydance practices many genres of dance, the performance routines are mainly based on modern dance. Rather than having a central theme, this spring concert will incorporate dances illustrating a wide range of content. Each work has its own unique idea, identity and inspiration.

There will be three major faculty-composed works, each with a unique style, theme and content.

Professor of Dance Janice Roberts has choreographed a piece called “The Road Not Chosen.” The performance explores what could have happened in life if different decisions had been made. In preparation for this dance, Janice Roberts asked her students to partake in a creative writing assignment in which they were asked to imagine what might have happened if they had made alternative decisions in their lives. The students shared these stories with each other and used them to inspire motion.

“Turn the Tide” is directed and choreographed by Professor of Dance Anthony Roberts and is inspired by stories of violence against women. The students researched such acts of violence and shared articles they found with each other. The Sexual Assault Resource Center SARN has worked closely with the dancers on the project. The students used their findings to develop a relevant and moving text to accompany the performance. This heart-rending work will contain some mature subject matter and is not recommended for young audiences.

Professor of Dance Heather Klopchin choreographed a piece titled “Petites Histoires.” The dancers focused on developing personality and characterization, which will be conveyed through the quirky characters each dancer portrays. This performance will be unique in that while modern dance is usually performed barefoot, this piece will be done in heels.

While there are many major works composed by faculty, the students have also been involved in the developmental process. There will be a dance choreographed and performed by the senior dance majors, as well as a few solo compositions by individual dance majors.

The production will incorporate spoken text with physical movement. St. Olaf dance professors and students have worked closely with Stuart Pimsler, a guest artist from the Twin Cities Dance Theater. Aiming to examine the beauty of everyday life through dance and spoken word, he choreographed an original piece for the students to perform called “a speck you see.” Live cameras will film some of the performance and project focused images to the audience.

“It is going to be a really interesting show filled with something for everyone,” Janice Roberts said.

Not only will the dances be fresh and original, the presentation will be as well. There will be a variety of costumes in a range of colors and styles. Costume designer Aimee Jillson has clothed the dancers in everything from dresses to pants. The dancers in “Turn the Tide” will be dressed completely in white, including make-up.

Because the program for the concert is so varied, Janice Roberts said that the most challenging part of the production has been “thinking about how to relate the dances to each other.” The dance professors have worked hard to organize the program in a way that will create a cohesive evening. The pieces are perhaps better connected by their creativity than by a common theme.

Some of the students have worked all year on these pieces.

“Aside from coming to support your friends, you should come to see the gamut of motions and emotions,” Janice Roberts said. “This will be a wide-ranging program, and we hope you will value the various experiences.”

Performances are scheduled for Thursday May 2, through Saturday May 4, in Kelsey Theater. The doors open at 7 p.m. each night and the show begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are free for St. Olaf students, faculty and staff and are available through the box office or online at