Spring concert explores impacts of last year through dance

Jordan Rusche, Lifestyles Editor (She/her)

The dance program will be hosting their spring concert, titled “On the Precipice of Change,” March 19-21. The show will feature performances choreographed by South Dakota State students and centered around the events of the last year.

“The choreographers really took that as sort of an overarching thematic context for thinking about the experience that we’ve all had over the course of the last year,” said Melissa Hauschild-Mork, an associate professor for the dance curriculum who also helped oversee preparation for the concert.

The concert will run March 19-21. Friday’s performance will be livestreamed at 7:30 p.m. on the Oscar Larson Performing Arts Center’s Facebook page. Saturday and Sunday’s performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. and 2 p.m., respectively, with a $10 fee for non-SDSU students. Friday’s performance is free for the public and tickets can be obtained in person or online at sdstate.tix.com.

“On the Precipice of Change” will reflect the shared struggles and experiences of people everywhere over the last several months in the form of dance, something Hauschild-Mork says is meant to express the feelings brought on by the pandemic.

“I particularly think that dance is one of the arts that allows us to say what we need to say in a way that’s really real, because we don’t have to attach words to it to make sense of it,” she said.

Performers include students who are both dance majors and simply interested in the art form. Hauschild-Mork said all pieces are student choreographed, and these students gathered inspiration from a variety of sources, all centered around the concept of COVID-19.

Hailey Haber, one of the choreographers, says for her, it was challenging to come out of her comfort zone to create a performance for this year’s show.

“(The piece) looks very different from any choreography that I have made previously,” she said. “I also had never choreographed with props, much less the large-scale props we have for this concert.”

Hauschild-Mork said, while the pandemic has added some additional challenges to practicing and preparing for the performance, she feels “blessed” that she has been able to continue teaching face-to-face and that the department has continued as close to normal as possible.

“We also are blessed with a beautiful space and huge dance studio … the studio is large enough that even with COVID-19 protocol, we can still fit 36 students in the space,” she said.

She added the experiences of the fall semester helped prepare her department for how to run this semester’s performance. The dancers will be wearing masks throughout the show and are choreographed to avoid unnecessary touching.

Haber said she has enjoyed the experiences this performance has allowed her.

“I have really enjoyed the opportunity to create a piece from start to finish with multiple dancers and large props,” she said.

The dance program has a few other projects in store after “On the Precipice of Change.” One upcoming piece is a collaborative project between the music, design, architecture, communications and English departments. 

It will be taking a 21st century look at Saint Hildegard of Bingen, a poet and musician who helped expand the understanding of creation and human existence in the Catholic Church.

“A lot of her teachings and a lot of her writing are still very much in exploration today,” Hauschild-Mork said.

Those in the dance program are excited to see the final performance come together after their work over the semester.

“I am excited to watch the choreography, the props, the staging and the costumes portray the ideas I had behind my piece,” Haber said.

Hauschild-Mork also thinks the show is a good opportunity for the community to support and appreciate the work that the choreographers and other students have done throughout the semester.

“Whenever students have an opportunity to showcase their individual work, it provides an opportunity not only for them to debut their work in concert, but for those in the community to recognize the artistry of students who are bright and interested, and their continued growth as human beings through the arts, and that’s what this show is supposed to do,” she said.