'Relationship Status,' choreographed and performed by Nicolette Meunier for the UW-Madison Dance Department's 2014 Kloepper Concert
On Saturday night, the UW-Madison Dance Department presented the 2014 edition of its annual Kloepper Concert, a showcase of new student works by 10 choreographers (solo or in groups) and the Freshman Workshop.
At a young age, it can be challenging to find your own voice, one separate from teachers, classmates and other choreographers. I appreciated the work behind these dances as well as the variety, ranging from Sarah Schwab's cheeky vegetable and fruit-chomping "Herbivore" to Shauna Shrewsbury's smart "My Own Influence."
There was some repetition of movements used in dances -- lying on the ground bicycling the legs, purposefully placing the head to rest on another dancer and hands flapping hinged at the wrists, etc. -- but there will always be some degree of cross-pollination in a small department. A few years ago deliberately pointed fingers were ubiquitous and before that, spoken word.
Nicolette Meunier's solo, "Relationship Status," was lovely and contemplative. Talented beyond her years, she commits to every movement whether simply walking in straight lines that turn into circles or fluttering her hand as if brushing off a cobweb.
Another strong solo was Molly Hodgson's "Unaccustomed." With her intense stage presence, she was at times steely, then vulnerable as she bent over in a series of skittery sideways steps or traced the contours of her shin with her hand.
"The Process" seemed mature and cohesive for the Freshman Workshop students' first foray into choreography (under the direction of Professor Kate Corby).
Ending the program were my two favorite works. ", I," was a spare and elegant trio by Alexis Aguilar beautifully danced by Joyce Gaffney, Schwab and Shrewsbury. In Courtney Kuhn's "the vocabulary is inconsequential," five dancers used movement phrases again and again (a little shimmy with elbows out or a hand flung over the heart while the spine contracts) and employed changes in direction and levels to mix things up. As this latter piece ended, the dancers glowed in neon light and seemed to vanish.
The concert and the cozy performance space are named in honor of Professor Louise Kloepper. She came to UW in 1942 as the first professional dancer admitted as a student and went on to serve three decades as a faculty member, and department chair for a time. The Kloepper Concert will be performed again Sunday, Dec. 7, at 2:30 p.m. in the Kloepper Studio at Lathrop Hall.