Orchesis and IDT fall show

ANNA FLANDERS, Staff Writer

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On Oct. 20 and 22, UNI’s Orchesis and International Dance Theatre (IDT) dance companies collaborated for their fall show. Both shows were in Russell Hall and offered free admission, drawing full audiences on Friday night and Sunday morning.

“I really enjoy the fall show, because it brings together both companies that are diverse in what they do individually and then also within their own company,” said Mandy Masmar, the director and instructor for both dance companies. “[In] the fall show we get to share a wide array of styles… We have ballet. We have jazz. We have tap. We have folk. We have ballroom.”

While Masmar choreographed both company pieces and one of IDT’s dances, students were responsible for the rest of the choreography. There were 12 dances total, six being performed by each dance company.

The show’s opening number was a Bollywood mashup. This piece was choreographed by a student from Malaysia for the 2017 spring show and restaged for the fall. IDT dance company members donned Panther purple and gold skirts for the piece.

Throughout the show, the dancers utilized props. For example, at the start of “Bright Encounters,” three Orchesis members wore sunglasses while a fourth went without. As the jazz dance progressed, the lights on stage got brighter as all but one of the dancers shed her pair of sunglasses.

More props appeared in Orchesis’ contemporary “Finding Our Voices.” Each dancer began staring down at a notebook. The dancers eventually threw down their notebooks, only to later pick them back up and tear the pages to pieces.

Although many audience members may be familiar with styles of dance such as jazz, tap and jive at least by name, they may not have heard of “hiplet” (pronounced hip-lay), a combination of hip hop and ballet. Orchesis danced this piece in tutus and pointe shoes, combining pointe steps with hip hop movements.

One Orchesis company piece was inspired by Masmar’s postpartum depression.

“When the light comes up, you see me exhausted — the exact moment I become a mom with the baby,” Masmar said. “Like I give birth, and he’s there, and it starts right there.”

And it goes through my journey all the way up to now… [That] makes me very vulnerable, because it is very personal. But it makes me very excited, because I think it’s an important thing to speak about.”

Another piece that Masmar choreographed was “Oktoberfest,” which is a compilation of German folk dances that IDT has performed at Oktoberfests around the state of Iowa during their fall semester. The dance showed the performers in traditional dirndls.

Orchesis President Kendra Gerrish choreographed a modern dance titled “To Dance.” According to Gerrish, the choreography is about dance appreciation. Having danced since age three, Gerrish continues to find new ways to enjoy it.

“To me [dance] has always been […] my stress relief, my […] saving grace,” Gerrish said. “When I come into the studio, I can let go of anything that’s outside those doors. I can just be with who I’m there with and just be in the moment.”

The show also featured Latin and jive dances performed by IDT and two tap pieces—one from each dance company.

After the opening night, Gerrish was enthusiastic.

“Tonight — huge crowd! That was awesome,” Gerrish said. “We could definitely feel the vibes off of them. Overall, I think from what I saw backstage… everyone had that great intensity, that great energy. And so feeding off of each other, we’re all like, ‘Yes, we’re doing so good! Let’s keep doing it.’ So that energy from backstage was awesome.”

IDT’s president Alyssa Swanson shared a similar sentiment.

“I think it went really well. I think the audience reacted really well, so that helped us keep the energy going,” Swanson said.

Orchesis and IDT both function as academic classes, student organizations and dance companies. Students receive credit for joining either company. As student organizations, there are student officers and committee heads in both companies. While Orchesis is audition-based, IDT welcomes anyone to join their dance company.

“If you’ve never had dance experience before, IDT is a good place to start, because it is not auditioned,” Swanson said. “We can start baby steps, and we teach you all different skill levels. I’ve been dancing since I was three, but then there’s other people who this is their first time ever dancing.”

Interested students were invited to “Join IDT for a day” on Oct. 24 from 4 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. and Orchesis auditions on Dec. 6 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

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