The ultimate test

'Young Choreographers Showcase' highlights student works April 15-17

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 30, 2016 - These are promo photos for the Washington University Performing Arts Department's upcoming production of Young Choreographers Showcase. Choreographer: Lisa Moya Piece Name: Encabronada Dancers from Left to Right: Lisa Moya Jodie Struminger Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr./WUSTL Photos

“Does it say what I want it to say?”

The question is fundamental for any artist. But for young dancers and choreographers, says Christine Knoblauch-O’Neal, professor of the practice in dance at Washington University in St. Louis, the answer is best found in public performance.

“Putting your work on stage is the ultimate test,” she said. “How does the audience respond? Are they leaning forward in their seats? Do they laugh when things are supposed to be funny? It can be a real education.”

On April 15, 16 and 17, the Performing Arts Department (PAD) in Arts & Sciences will present “Young Choreographers Showcase.” The biennial concert, which takes place in the Annelise Mertz Dance Studio on the Danforth Campus, will feature 14 dancers in five original works created by student choreographers in the PAD’s Dance Program.

“It’s a competitive field,” said Knoblauch-O’Neal, who co-directs the program with sophomore Emily Duggins. “We have some really exciting works, all of which are chosen by jury. Some are very internal and reflect what’s going on in their lives. Others respond to current events and what’s going on in the world.”

Still others, Knoblauch-O’Neal said, are about the pure, playful joy of creation. “Sometimes you find richness and depth in the simplest of movements,” she said, “and everyone in the theatre begins to sit up a little.

“And you think, ‘Yes. They got it.’ ”

On the program 

“Since Feeling Is First.” Duggins choreographs a work for six dancers based on the poetry of e.e. cummings. The piece, she said, “navigates the issue of logical planned experience versus a pure emotional, heart-led experience.”

“Ok! Ladies.” Choreographer Rhea Eubanks describes this piece for six dancers as “a fun romp through present day movement styles of street dancing.”

“Forgetting and Being Forgotten.” Emily Haussler choreographs and performs this solo about a woman, entering a transitional stage of life, who explores the links between emotion and memory as well as anxieties about preserving her past.

 “You’ve Got That Thing!” Marina Mai choreographs this sultry quartet about support, competition and dancing for oneself.

“Encabronada.” Lisa Moya choreographs and performs this duet, which centers on an argument between two siblings and feelings of being trapped in a house with someone to whom they don’t wish to speak.


“Young Choreographers Showcase” begins at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 15 and 16; and at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 17. Performances take place in the Annelise Mertz Dance Studio, located in the Mallinckrodt Center at 6465 Forsyth Blvd.

Tickets are $15, or $10 for students, seniors and Washington University faculty and staff, and are available through the Edison Theatre Box Office. For more information, call 314-935-6543.




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