Dance Extravaganza returns to the mainstage

Student dancers perform in Liza Clairagneau’s piece titled “But, Yet, And,” which grapples with the conflicting emotions of fullness and emptiness. This is one of the seven pieces that will be showcased during Dance Extravaganza. Photo by Lexie Boren

Lewis & Clark’s annual Dance Extravaganza (Dance X) opens today, Friday, Dec. 6, on the mainstage theatre. Tickets are $5 for students. The show showcases student dancers, choreographers, producers, and costume and lighting designers. 

India Roper-Moyes ’20 is one of the student choreographers this year. She is a theatre major with a concentration in dance, and was as a dancer in Dance X her freshman year. 

“My piece is called ‘Make Body Do,’” Roper-Moyes said. “It’s about creativity, and my thesis statement is that creativity exists in the body, whether it’s movement or cerebral creativity. So it’s kind of bridging the gap between people who might sit at a desk and draw something or write a poem and spend a lot of their creative energy sitting down, versus people like actors and dancers who are constantly moving as part of their creativity.”

This year’s performance features five pieces choreographed by students and one by a guest choreographer. Student dancers are cast by the choreographers after auditions in the early fall. 

Ally Rose ’23 is a dancer in two separate pieces:  “Make Body Do” and “Rip Tide.” 

“Being a dancer in Dance X is amazing,” Rose said via email. “Most of my dance experience has been pretty formal and strict and being able to work with choreographers in such a warm and inviting setting has been lovely.”

Student choreographers are required to take Dance Composition and Improvisation (TH308) before choreographing a piece for Dance X. Each student, then, spends several months choreographing the final dance, auditioning and practicing with dancers and preparing for the final performance. 

“I really just started with the opening,” Roper-Moyes said. “I had this image of the beginning, which is three tables set up, three people sitting at the tables and doing stuff with books. From there after I had cast my dancers, we worked with a lot of imagery to kind of build this collective language of the movement we would be using. So it was a lot of improvisation … and kind of having a vague idea of what I wanted the movement to be, but mostly drawing on my dancers’ movements and what felt really natural for them in their bodies.”

The dancers and choreographers involved in the show dedicate time throughout the semester to work on their pieces. 

“I have spent a minimum of seven hours a week rehearsing, and often it can get up to ten or eleven,” Rose said. “It can be tough to balance school and dance and everything else.”

Caroline Wilkes ’20 is the stage manager for Dance X. As a theatre major, stage managing a variety of different LC performances is a part of her senior thesis. 

“If you’re in a show, even if the actors are doing everything perfectly, I can miss a light and people will remember that,” Wilkes said. “I’m theoretically in charge of the whole thing, so if anything goes wrong it’s my responsibility.”

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