Find Yourself in The Movement
Aaron Krish

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 own ideas.

“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.