Photo Courtesy of Quincee Lark

Dance X explores virtual format, dance on film

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has complicated hosting in-person performances, the theatre department at Lewis & Clark has not let that discourage them from creating and hosting artistic events. The annual Dance Extravaganza performance, commonly referred to as Dance X, has been staged at LC since 1996 and will be taking place this year as a streamed recording.

This year’s student choreographers are Emma Bryan ’22, Martin Lopez ’23, Gila Winefeld ’23, Liza Clairagneau ’21, Quincee Lark ’21 and Ally Rose ’22. All Dance X performances will be presented on film. The medium of film allows for dance sequences that are specifically choreographed to be filmed, rather than just documenting live dance performances. This year, Dance X is partnering with local videographers Robert Uehlin and Conrad Kaczor. 

Creating performances for a digital format has allowed student choreographers to explore new avenues of creativity, including dancing in different settings.

For Bryan, who is also president of LC Dance Company, creating dance for film and working with cinematographers has been an exciting new opportunity.

“We’re able to meet and talk about … being able to control dance through a different lens than just movement,” Bryan said. “I get to play with a lot more things, I can control where the audience’s eye looks a lot more. So that’s been really satisfying.”

After auditioning, this year’s Dance X choreographers have each created different pieces, with a range of dancers in each; Bryan’s, in particular, is a duet, while others are choreographing and performing solo pieces. The most difficult aspect has been dealing with artistic isolation. Each piece is filmed individually, and choreographers and dancers alike are unable to work off of each other like they were in past rehearsals. Bryan is excited to see what her fellow choreographers have been working on, as she is mainly focused on editing her own piece.

Regardless of this year’s circumstances, Bryan is enthusiastic about the film format this year and sees it more as an opportunity for a new method of presenting dance, rather than something that needed to be adapted to.

“This is the first time I’ve ever done dance on film,” Bryan said. “I’ve been a competitive dancer since I was 12, so this is a huge change for me, and I’m more than thrilled to be able to do that here.”

Another upside to COVID-19 restrictions is that virtual shows are much more accessible and will be able to reach a wider audience than when the shows were performed on campus. In previous years, paid tickets were required to attend Dance X, and the show was only performed on two different days, while this year the streamed performance will be available on several dates and times. 

The LC Dance Company is hoping to host a watch party for the Dance X performances in December. This will take place over Zoom, and the chat feature will remain open for viewers to express their reactions and enthusiasm live during the show. Afterward, there will be an informal Q&A with the choreographers. Anyone interested in receiving the link or more information for the watch party can contact dancecompany@lclark.edu.

This year’s Dance X performances will be streamed on Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m., and Dec. 4, 5 and 6 at 12 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The links for the scheduled performances will be available in December.

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