University's fall dance concert to feature variety of styles

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

The Theater and Dance department at Southeast Missouri State University is ready to impress. If the department's Fall Dance Concert, opening Friday, lives up to the hype, making a good impression should be easy.

"Our department is growing by leaps and bounds, and I think people are going to see us take it to the next level," said Dr. Marc Strauss, one of show's faculty choreographers.

The department is rolling out a variety of dance styles -- modern, jazz, ballet, swing, tap and hip-hop -- on pieces choreographed by both faculty and students. Strauss will be joined in choreography by new faculty members Hilary Peterson and Gil McNaughton and students Heather Connell and Leslie Samples.

Connell's piece uses hip-hop dance in a high-energy duet with fellow student Stephen Fister.

Samples' piece will be a modern dance number, the first she's ever choreographed, called "Reaching Out." The Southeast senior was helped in her choreography by her time studying this summer with the Paul Taylor Dance Company. There she learned techniques that she used to create "Reaching Out," and gained the experience to bring it to life.

"The piece is about my life as a dancer," said Samples. "I started out as a hip-hop dancer, and I've always loved modern dance, so I've been striving to become a softer modern dancer."

She started to choreograph "Reaching Out" before the summer study. During her studies Samples said she learned to ease her motions and make them more fluid, which shows in the piece's progression.

The choreographers are only a small part of the concert, though. About 30 students will take the stage to flex their dance ability, showing off range and versatility. Some will be dressed in kilts for "Brigadoon," some will play the part of red and white articles of clothing in "Wash with Like Colors."

The university is hoping this diversity will bring in even bigger crowds to an already well-attended event. This year the concert has expanded from its previous two dates to four.

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