By Margaret Bagnell, Transcript Reporter
The audience roared and applauded at this year’s 2012 Orchesis performances presented by the Department of Theatre and Dance at the Chappelear Drama Center March 2 and 3.
Orchesis is OWU’s student dance company. Orchesis provides company members with the opportunity to perform their own choreographed pieces, and work with guest and faculty choreographers to showcase their talent. Each piece performed Saturday displayed a wide array of emotions. Pieces explored suvh topics as stress, disaster, the military and sexual violence.
Assistant Professor of Theatre and Dance, Marin Leggat, artistic director of Orchesis said the rehearsal process was not without its challenges.
“I think the more complex part of organizing the concert was scheduling. There are 22 dancers, 8 choreographers, 6 lighting designers and an entire technical crew whose schedules need(ed) to coordinate to get things done on time. Choreographers rehearsed 3 hours every week, and often ran into schedule conflicts when their dancers were involved in other academic and extra-curricular activities.”
“I remember Pledge Week was especially challenging, because our guest choreographer, Kristen Groves, was setting her dance on eight dancers that week. Most of these dancers had to plan well ahead of time to be able to participate in Pledge Week and attend all of Kristen’s rehearsals,” said Leggat.
The show drew a full house both nights.
“I was thrilled, but not surprised, by our large audiences. The students have worked so hard since mid-October, and are really proud of the work they’ve done. I knew they would spread the word to get their friends, families and faculty to attend. I’m glad so many people got to celebrate these students,” said Leggat.
The performance consisted of vibrant costumes for each set piece, as well as different lighting sets all coordinated to make the overall expressions of the dancers reflect on the audience.
“I thought the costuming and lighting looked stunning. We had a wide range of colors, fabrics, styles and moods from dance to dance. Jackie Shelley did a lovely job coordinating those costumes. Under the guidance of Glen Vanderbilt, student lighting designers Dave Winnyk, Ed Howland, Nathaniel Barber and Andrea Kraus created a new world for each dance,” said Leggat.
The dancers endured long practices in order to perfect each move and be in synch with one another. With all of that hard work and dedcation, came a slight injury for Freshman Victoria “Buzzy” Biddinger. Weeks prior to the performance Biddinger dislocated her knee cap.
Biddinger said, “I took a few days off, but jumped back in when the swelling went down. My knee was starting to feel better, until I did it again during Yvonne (Hendrick’s) piece on Monday (of technical rehearsal week). My knee made a loud ‘pop’ and the instant pain made me feel queasy. I went to the doctor the next day and he said that I was going to need an MRI because he was concerned about my ACL. This made me super stressed because I’ve already gone through two ACL surgeries. I was really struggling with walking, so I told Marin that my gut feeling was that I wasn’t going to be able to perform. I was in five pieces and they all had to be changed a little bit, due to my absence. It was really hard to sit out and watch because I love being on the stage and have been training since October for Orchesis. However, the cast was so supportive of me and still made me feel important.”
Biddinger later got an MRI and was told she had a large tear in her meniscus, and that her ACL was fine. She got approval from her doctor that she would be able to dance on it but it would be very painful.
“I iced, elevated, took ibuprofen, and jumped into rehearsal Thursday night. I had to be taken out of April (Warner’s) piece because of all the jumping and intense movements, but I got to be in the other pieces with slight changes. My knee was a bit tender, but I had an amazing time Friday and Saturday on and off the stage. I’m so incredibly happy that I got to have this experience and I will treasure these memories forever,” said Biddinger.
Students who attended the performances were impressed by the intricate dance moves but, more importantly, the skill of the dancers.
“I attended the performance because it was required for my Intro to Dance Technique class,” said senior Kellianne Devine. Overall I thought the performances were unique and well designed. The lighting and the music really completed the dances.”
“There were key dancers like April Warner and Yvonne Hendricks that I especially enjoyed watching. Their passion for dance was shown in every move and expression,” said Devine.
Senior Yvonne Hendricks acted, danced and choreographed her own piece called ‘Human’.
“I loved dancing in it and I had so much fun on stage with my dancers. The reactions of my dancers made it worthwhile,” said Hendricks.
Sophomore Emily Hostetler was another student who was a choreographer and dancer in the performances.
Hostetler said, “It’s so hard to choose my favorite dance. All of the dancers and choreographers worked their butts off for this show. My favorite dance to watch had to be Kristen’s piece. Everyone who wasn’t in her piece would dance to the music back stage. My favorite piece to dance in had to be Yvonne’s piece. African dancing is definitely not something I thought I would ever do, but it was an absolute blast.”
This year’s Orchesis performances were successful due to the use of publicity on campus.
“I think the performances went extremely well. We had quite a few dancer injuries but everyone pulled through and put on one of the best Orchesis shows we have had in years. I was so impressed by the OWU community showing their support and selling out two shows. It’s such a great feeling when people appreciate the months of work you put into something. The show, the experience, the people, everything surpassed my expectations. What I thought would be a good show turned into a fantastic performance,” said Hostetler.