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Dance students perform at Links in Chicago

April 8, 2015

Stephens College dance students are headed to Chicago this week to perform an original piece choreographed on the Columbia campus.

Brandi Coleman of Chicago’s Jump Rhythm Jazz Project choreographed the dance as part of Stephens Summer Dance. She expanded on it, adding scenes and tweaking moves, as a world dance guest artist in the fall. Coleman used the dance as the creative component of her thesis while working toward her M.F.A. in Dance from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

The dance, “What We Do With Time,” will begin at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Links Hall. It originally debuted at the Annual Spring Dance Concert at Stephens’ Macklanburg Playhouse in February.

“This is the perfect connection between what our guest artists create with our dance students on campus and then having our students be able to share that work in a professional venue,” said Gail Humphries Mardirosian, dean of the School of Performing Arts. “Brandi’s work is imaginative and vibrant, and it’s exciting for our students to be dancing and working with an innovative choreographer such as her.”

The piece is 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.”

Moves mimic typing, classroom behavior and acrobatic feats as chairs become interactive props.

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.”

Coleman also brought Stephens alumna Elizabeth Lamontagne back to perform in the show as a solo artist. Lamontagne graduated in 2014 but participated in Stephens Summer Dance following graduation. She now works for Tapestry Dance Company and Academy in Austin.

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