Butler Ballet Student Choreographers’ showcase comes to Clowes Memorial Hall on October 22 and 23

Dance students will perform their own choreographed dances on Oct. 22 and 23 at Clowes Hall. Photo courtesy of Butler Arts Center. 

ERIC NOFZIGER | STAFF REPORTER | enofzige@butler.edu 

The Butler Ballet Student Choreographers’ showcase is coming to Clowes Memorial Hall on Oct. 22 and 23. The show is choreographed, performed and organized entirely by students from the Butler University department of dance and will feature performances put together by 13 student choreographers. These choreographers are responsible for every aspect of their performances, from the creative input to logistical components like lighting and sound.

Teryn Trent, a senior dance arts administration major, said that there are numerous responsibilities as a choreographer in the showcase.

“I have to pick my dancers, the music, what my piece is going to be about, reserve studio time, choreograph the piece, design the costumes and figure out the lighting,” Trent said. 

However, due to the pandemic, multiple students said that these responsibilities have been difficult to carry out, as the choreographers have faced challenges since the start of the rehearsal process.

Katherine Cackovic, a senior dancer arts administration major and the director of the showcase, said that the showcase preparation itself got off to a late start.

“The process usually starts the first week of classes, but since we were virtual for two weeks, people weren’t able to go into the studios and get started with their casts,” Cackovic said. “People didn’t start choreographing until the third week of school, so it’s been a pretty quick turnaround.”

Furthermore, mask mandates and physical distancing requirements have affected the rehearsal process — it’s posed more obstacles for choreographers and performers to overcome, Trent said.

“The dancers have to wear masks on stage, they have to social distance [and] there can’t be any partnering, [so] we have to limit the amount of floorwork that we do,” Trent said. 

The maximum number of dancers in each performance is limited to five as well, contrasting with previous years.

Nonetheless, the students involved in the showcase have risen to meet the challenges presented and have even been able to find room for personal and artistic growth, according to students like Reyna Carrillo, a junior dance arts administration and psychology double major.

Carrillo is a choreographer and the assistant director of the showcase, and said the restrictions helped her step out of her comfort zone.

“It led me to have a bit of creativity,” Carrillo said. “I think it’s also led me to experiment more with movement and things I wasn’t expecting to do, which helped me grow, so it was good in that sense, but definitely challenging.”

Trent also sees this unique showcase as a chance to grow and push himself creatively.

“It’ll be a good opportunity for me to explore what’s going on in my head and see if I can make that tangible,” Trent said. “I think this year in particular it’s really important because my piece is a reflection of what’s going on in my experiences of being a Black male in society nowadays. The biggest difficulty I’ve had is trying to be specific about the story I want to tell while talking about something that is just so huge in nature.”

Trent said this endeavor has proven to be deeply rewarding, albeit in a different way than the previous two years, in which he’s also choreographed in the showcase.

“In the past, the most rewarding aspect of choreographing is hearing people tell me that they resonated with the story or the way my choreography made them feel,” Trent said. “I think this year, the most rewarding aspect of it has been to connect with my dancer and actually get to sit down and talk about what it has been like for her —  she’s also a person of color — and combine our experiences and explore that in movement.”

Perhaps the biggest lesson the student choreographers said they have learned this year is the importance of being able to adapt to any sudden challenge or change in plans. One of the most drastic changes to this year’s showcase is its location. 

Usually, the performances take place in Lilly Hall but are moving to Clowes Memorial Hall in order to accommodate for more performance space, as well as the opportunity for a live audience of 100 people to remain socially distanced.

While Clowes can accommodate more audience members, the change in venue comes with logistical difficulties. The details of choreographed dances that would have looked great in a room in Lilly have the possibility of getting eaten up by large space on the Clowes stage, according to Carrillo.

“Anything can change until the curtain goes up,” Carrillo said. “During COVID-19, dancers and people, in general, have learned to be very adaptive, and it’s a good skill to have.”

The Butler Ballet Student Choreographers’ showcase will take place in Clowes Memorial Hall on Oct. 22 and 23 at 7:30 p.m. The performances will also be live-streamed on the Butler Arts & Events Center Website and count for both a Butler Cultural Requirement and a JCA Arts Event Attendance Requirement.

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