By Tyler Stup, SMTD Publicity Intern
Havelock Ellis, an English physician and writer, once said, “Dancing is the loftiest, the most moving, the most beautiful of the arts, because it is not mere translation or abstraction from life; it is life itself.”
From Nov. 9 to 11, dance students at the UCA will show audiences a piece of their life, performing dance works from classes department-wide.
This fall will mark the first dance concert at CSU for Madeline Harvey, new assistant professor of dance. Inspired by the opportunities to continue her work as a dance educator, choreographer and performer, Harvey came to Colorado State University following her time as instructor of ballet at the University of South Carolina. She is joined by her husband, Matthew Harvey, who is an adjunct dance faculty member. The couple continues to perform professionally as touring guest artists. Most recently, they were featured in Snow White, choreographed by Mark Diamond, artistic director of Charlotte Ballet II. The duo will travel to perform principal roles in three different productions of the Nutcracker this December. Having worked closely with world-renowned artists such as Patricia McBride, Alonzo King and Dwight Rhoden, the Harveys are excited to share their knowledge with CSU dance students.
“I think [college dance] embodies the intellectual, artistic and technical aspect of dance; it’s really this marriage of body, mind and spirit all coming together,” she said. With this in mind, students in Harvey’s ballet repertory ensemble will perform excerpts of 1850s Parisian ballet Le Corsaire.
Harvey hopes that tackling the iconic set of movements will allow her dancers to find their individuality and their voice as artists.
“I look for choreography that will challenge them technically and artistically,” Harvey says. “I tend to shoot for the stars – go for something that’s going to present a fun challenge for the students to dissect and study. I’ll select choreography that really allows them to discover what it means to embody a certain character or set of movements.”
In addition to helping adapt choreography for the ballet repertory ensemble, Harvey will perform on the dance concert.
“Ultimately, as an artist I tend to draw from my own personal experiences and try to access those in performance and bring them to the forefront of that live experience,” she said.
The Harveys will be performing the Romeo and Juliet Balcony Pas de Deux, choreographed by Hernan Justo of the Carolina Ballet Theatre, with music by Sergei Prokofiev.
Matthew Harvey’s work on the dance concert also includes the expansion of an existing piece, Ricochet, adding several more movements to the piece that premiered in 2013, originally created for professional dancers of Carolina Ballet Theatre. As a high-energy, eclectic, and fun work – driven by the music of Beats Antique – the choreography is a music visualization that swirls, bounces, glides and kicks its way from start to finish. Each section explores a series of physical motifs and patterns, combining a variety of dance styles. As an abstract work, the ballet holds no specific message, allowing the audience to reach its own interpretation.
And that’s just a small slice of what goes on to put the evening together. Many other dance staff and faculty are going through a similar process to bring dance works to the stage.
In addition to faculty, the evening features original dance choreography from students. To be chosen, student choreographers presented partially completed works to a panel of faculty.
Madison Martinek, a junior dance major, has risen to the challenge of being a student choreographer this semester. Having danced since she was 3 years old, she spent many hours choreographing as much as she could, finding inspiration from her own personal experience.
“I let myself be taken over by the music to see how my body naturally moves to it,” she said. “Another place I draw inspiration from is the world around me, especially other mediums of art. I love looking to painting or drawings to see what I can pull from them.”
Martinek says that enjoying the music helps too. “When I enjoy the music, I find more inspiration to choreograph.”
After creating choreography with a group, Martinek also serves another role.
“As a student director, I am helping with the production aspect,” she said. “[I make] sure choreographers have what they need to achieve their pieces and to help the production staff with any needs they have.”
The night is a complex effort of many people’s hard work over the course of a semester.
A talk-back session with the dancers will end the show. Madeline Harvey says, “We want to make dance as accessible as possible.”
CSU’s fall dance concert takes place Thursday, Nov. 9, and Friday, Nov. 10, at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, Nov. 11, at 2 p.m. in the University Dance Theater. Tickets are available at csuartstickets.com.