Lower your inhibitions, and immerse yourself in a world
where music and movement tell a story like none other. Danstage is returning
and challenging the mind of performers and audience members, creating an
experience that is personal for all.
The University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point’s Department
of Theatre and Dance is rehearsing and getting ready for its annual dance
event, Danstage, coming to the Noel Fine Arts Center in April. Dance professors
Joan Karlen and Michael Estanich commented on this year’s event and the
preparations being made.
“For the very first time, Danstage will be presented in
the round, meaning the audience will be seated on all four sides of the stage,”
Karlen said. “This setting changes the thinking of where we want the audience
to look and at what time.”
Presenting Danstage in such a way allows for the
choreographers and dancers to create motion that leads the audience through
space as well as have a little fun with what they do in their routine. In the
past, a traditional routine was seen on a proscenium stage where the audience
is only seated on one side.
Alongside Karlen’s and Estanich’s work, dance faculty
member Jeannie Hill and guest artist Melinda Jean Myers will be featured with
casts of USWP student dancers. Each choreographer has a theme and routine in
mind when planning for the show.
“I look at the world around me for inspiration and base
dance off of my personal interests,” Estanich said. “For this piece I was
inspired by birds and how they move, while also looking at how our
relationships change and how they weave together.”
Estanich’s piece, entitled “Hokkaido Sanctuary, Japan
7:21 a.m.,” uses 15 dancers to imagine the emergence of life and the cacophony
of changing relationships in the early hours. The movements of the dancers
mimic that of a crane with “rippling arms and supple torsos.”
Karlen’s piece, entitled “Tacit,” was greatly inspired
by her residency at the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada. She explained that
movement elicits a feeling of growing from the forest floor and growing
personally as an individual.
“I want to see how much of themselves they reveal
through the piece,” Karlen said. “How clearly can they convey an idea without
hiding behind fear or how they think they should look. I’m interested in the
dancers being personal.”
The rehearsal process is held three days a week, and
dancers often face a scenario or problem given to them by the choreographer to
solve. The idea is to take original work and change aspects of it with their
“Ideas change by the hour. I present a problem to
someone with a different insight, and the piece of choreography reveals itself
to me,” Karlen said. “It gets to the point where it feels natural—when I don’t
have to actively ask a question, and the answer appears.”
Both Estanich and Karlen explained that Danstage is an
opportunity for faculty to continue their research and give the opportunity to
the students to work in a pre-professional way. It is a chance to show new work
to the community.
“Community members who attend every year have expressed
that they appreciate watching our dancers develop over four years,” Estanich
said. “They see how the dancers develop technically and artistically.”
At the end of the day, however, the performance is all
about the audience and how they personally react to a performance. Estanich
explained that dance is a universal language taken to a heightened form and
concept. Communication is through the body, and audience members are given the
visceral and physical chance to feel it.
“It’s an opportunity to learn about yourself in an honest
and unguarded way,” Karlen said. “People don’t come to see a performance. They
come to see themselves.”
Danstage will be presented in the Noel Fine Arts Center
on April 12-14 and April 17-20, 2013.