​6th Annual Dancewise Coming to the Stage

by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer
Dancers from the Theatre and Dance Department will take the stage this weekend for the sixth annual iteration of Dancewise, a production led and choreographed by University students.
The dance will feature faculty, 19 University students and guest artist Jenny Showalter of New York’s Treeline DanceWorks. Courtney World, assistant professor of dance, created Dancewise six years ago to give student dancers and choreographers the opportunity to work on a production that is similar to a professional contemporary dance concert.
“I come up with a theme for the production, and often, the theme is around something that I’m working on in my own work. I wanted to do something jazzy this year, and I was hoping to open the door to having more live music in the future. This year, Jenny Showalter came down from New York to create something with the students,” she said.
The students will perform Showalter’s “Flightless,” which was inspired by feathers and light.
“It’s abstract enough that everyone will discover something for themselves in it,” World said.
World said the inspiration for the theme “Body and Soul” was the classic dance song of the same name.
“I’ve always loved the jazz tune ‘Body and Soul,’ and that got me thinking, what is body and what is soul, and how do those two things relate and be so different for everyone? I tend to choose a theme that’s quite open so the choreographers can find their own way into exploring something related,” she said.
Student choreographer Robin Kate Davis said the first step to creating a dance is feeling the music.
“I’ll hear a piece of music and start picturing how I want to dance to it. So much of it is about how the song makes me feel,” she said. “My choreography is to a piece called ‘Dreams,’ and the subject of the scene is becoming aware that she can be a part of the dream as well. My inspiration was a soul connection rather than one to the body, and it’s about making oneself aware of that curiosity it takes to become part of the dream.”
Danielle Silfies, a senior theatre major, choreographed dances for the production of “Cabaret,” which she will be working to restage for “Body and Soul.”
Silfies said Sewanee has given her the tools she needs to create her own choreography as well as design costumes to accompany the dances.
Silfies is working with the Professor Jennifer Matthews’ costume design class to outfit all the dancers.
“A lot of my inspiration comes from being a dancer—it makes it easier to talk to other dancers about what they want for their costumes. They’ll give me a general idea of what they’re envisioning, and from there, you can take that idea and find historical pictures to create the pieces.”
New to Dancewise this year is student lighting designer, Krystal Fowler.
“Typically, we have faculty or an intern do lighting, but Krystal is doing the design for ‘Body and Soul’ as her senior project. She is meeting with every choreographer individually to plan for the show.”
“DanceWise: Body and Soul” will run at the Tennessee Williams Center’s Proctor Hill Theatre at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 1; at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 2; and at 2 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 3.
Admission is free, but seating is limited. Ticket reservations are at <Eventbrite.com>.