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Dance concert to feature original piece from Chicago-based choreographer

February 24, 2015

Those attending the Annual Spring Dance Concert next week will be treated to an original piece choreographed by Brandi Coleman of Chicago’s Jump Rhythm Jazz Project.

The dance, “What We Do With Time,” turns the stresses and craziness of college life into jazzy scenes. Moves mimic typing, classroom behavior and nervous breakdowns. Expect to laugh.

“It’s a tongue-in-cheek commentary on the life of a student,” Coleman said, “ and all of the stress, anxiety, panic and loopy lunacy that goes with it.”

The piece is the creative component of the thesis Coleman is working on toward her M.F.A. in Dance from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. A low-residency program, she’s working on her master’s from Chicago, where she is also an adjunct at Northwestern University and Carthage College.

Coleman originally choreographed the piece as a solo. When she spent three weeks at Stephens Summer Dance intensive this past summer, she reworked it as a group performance.

“Working on it with 11 dancers, the piece took on a life of its own,” she said. “Each dancer developed her individual character based on her unique experience as a student.”

When she returned to Chicago this fall, Coleman wanted to continue working on the dance but “couldn’t see doing it with another group.”

So she returned to Stephens this semester as the world dance guest artist.

“We picked up right where we left off,” she said.

Coleman is researching the social and cultural impact of the Africanist aesthetic in American dance.

On the performance side, that means working with asymmetric, high-energy movements. While most dances focus on making shapes with the human body, her piece is focused on using the body to shape energy.

“It’s a raw, essential, inside energy coming out,” she said.

Elizabeth LaMontagne, who graduated in May, is returning to Stephens to be part of the performance. She’ll have a solo in the dance.

The Annual Spring Dance Concert features faculty and guest artist choreographed works. It will feature a variety of dance forms, including ballet and contemporary pieces.

The dance begins at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 27-28 and March 6-7 with a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee on March 1. It will be held at Macklanburg Playhouse. Tickets.

Later this semester, Stephens dancers will travel to Chicago to perform “What We Do With Time” as part of a concert featuring Coleman’s works at Links Hall on April 10-11.

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