Dance-Apalooza: Southeast students get ready to shake the stage

Thursday, February 28, 2008

It used to be called something else -- Full Tilt, Transitions, Terpsichore.

But since 2006, the Southeast Missouri State University faculty/guest choreographed show has been known as Dance-Apalooza.

Dance-Apalooza follows in the footsteps of other events like Lollapalooza that include different types or genres of something into one big show, said Marc Strauss, the artistic coordinator and one choreographer for the show.

In this case, the big show encompasses tap, jazz, modern and contemporary dance styles. Three faculty choreographers, one adjunct faculty, a student and two guest choreographers each designed pieces of the show, which starts today in the Bedell Performance Hall on the River Campus.

"I think for the most part, people will really enjoy themselves," Strauss said.

Dancers rehearsed a piece for Dance-Apalooza on Monday at the Bedell Performance Hall. (Fred Lynch)

Each choreographer comes from a different style. Strauss said there is no overlying theme this year, when in the past there may have been.

"This year, we've pretty much gone our separate ways," he said.

For his main piece, "C'est Magnifique," Strauss invited four other choreographers -- the two faculty, one adjunct and a senior dance performance major -- to write a piece to a Cole Porter song. Bringing different perspectives under the theme of one musician creates a mosaic of dances to classics like "Night and Day" and "Every Time We Say Goodbye" from the 1930s songwriter, each with a slightly different style.

"I didn't want to pick obscure Cole Porter," he said. "I wanted to pick songs people would recognize."

Part of his Cole Porter collaboration was designed by senior performance dance major Marissa Crozier. She wrote the work for "Let's do it. Let's fall in love."

"It's really just entertaining," Crozier said. "It's a cute little story."

Her song is about a man playing two women who find out about each other and both dump him.

"It does have undertones of women's empowerment," she said, noting the song was written in 1928 in the midst of the women's movement and women's suffrage.

She said, ultimately, though, it's just a fun story, and "hopefully the audience will giggle at it."

The show opens and ends with works by the two guest choreographers. Lees Hummel wrote the grant to get Jeannie Hill and Sean Curran as guest choreographers.

"I wanted something that would relate to the people as well as the dancer," Hummel said.

"Play Dirty," which opens the show, is a short rhythm tap piece from Hill.

"I knew that would be a good, high-energy piece to capture the audience," Hummel said.

That energy reverberates through the hour-and-a-half show with several of the pieces incorporating tap or loud stomps to accentuate the music or dance moves, keeping the audience awake and engaged.

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