In the spotlight: COFAP dancers produce pieces rooted in Scottish lore and Greek mythology
By Janie Magruder
GCU News Bureau
This week’s Grand Canyon University’s Student Spotlight Dance Concerts could not be more appropriately named. The pieces are all choreographed and performed by dance students in the College of Fine Arts and Production, the productions are managed by students, the lighting is designed by students, even a film student is producing a recording for the dance students’ portfolios.
At the first concerts of this academic year, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday in Thunder Alley, the works of both veteran GCU dancers and freshmen who haven’t been on campus long enough to take choreography classes will be featured. The shows are free and open to the public.
“It’s exciting to see the talents that our freshmen have and that they were able to adjudicate their work and get into the show,” said Bekki Price, an adjunct dance faculty member and concert coordinator.
The concerts will feature 14 pieces by emerging student choreographers, including an authentic Scottish Sword Dance choreographed by the Scottish Country Dance Society and performed by senior Kathlyn Chisholm, a Scot. Passed down from the 1600s, it originally was a war dance that men would perform before battle and after battle, but only when they were victorious. The warrior would dance in the space in between the swords crossed on the ground.
“As story goes, if the soldier disassembled the crossing of the sword it meant bad luck in battle,” said Chisholm, who will dress in native costume, her clan’s red, green and white tartan kilt and a broach of a boar with two swords in its head. “Scottish dance has evolved into a competitive and performance-based dance form that now allows men and women.”
Chisholm, a 22-year-old dance education major who also is schooled in ballroom dancing, has performed in a dozen shows at GCU and views the upcoming concerts as one of “the last hurrahs for me.”
Another piece in the concert was choreographed by freshman Savannah Anderson and will be performed by freshmen Shaylee Ellson and Chesney Thompson. Titled, “The Romance of Hades & Persephone,” the piece is Anderson’s reimagined suggestion that Hades may not exactly have kidnapped Persephone against her will.
Anderson, 18, said she was surprised and honored to have her piece chosen during last month’s adjudication. Her introduction to GCU college life has been everything she’d hoped for.
“I fell in love with the choreographers and the teachers here, and I felt so welcomed by a lot of the professors and the older dancers,” she said.
“Freshman Orientation” also promises to be interesting. Choreographed by seniors Caitlin Lively and Michelle Bissonnette, it features “chance choreography” in which improvisation will play a large role, a la charades. A bowl containing pieces of paper with tasks that perhaps some freshmen struggle with — preparing a meal or doing laundry, for example — will be passed among the dancers on stage who will be asked to improvise them.
As always, music will be part and parcel of the performances, with selections on the program including compositions by Alexandre Desplat, John Williams and Cashmere Cat, among others.
Contact Janie Magruder at (602) 639-8018 or [email protected]