Kristen Sienema watches dance students prepare for the Ryerson theatre school's production Choreographic Workshop '99. PHOTO: DAVID PAYUMO

Students serve up dance delights

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By Lindsay Gibb

Kristen Sienema was standing outside the theatre building with a few other dance students after practice one day when she saw a homeless man who had fallen into a snowdrift.

“Everyone just walked right past him,” she says. Rather than leave him there, the students called security to come help him up. “Maybe it didn’t make a difference,” she says. “But it made a difference to us.”

Sienema says that when people walk down the street, they tend not to notice most of the people they walk past.

This idea was the inspiration for Myopia, one of the dances in the Ryerson theatre school’s annual Choreographic Workshop.

For Myopia, the dancers recorded themselves reciting monologues which were later mixed together at different speeds to create sound for the background of the dance. The piece itself is about a character who can see everything around her but can’t be seen.

Myopia is just one of the pieces you’ll see in Choreographic Workshop ’99. In others, students use improv, food and their own life stories to inspire their movements. There are 22 pieces in all.

“In one we use food and it gets pretty messy,” Sienema says. Ice cream, lemons, liquorice, Froot Loops and bananas will all be on stage. Each dancer is defined by the way they eat and interact with the foods. “It’s a lot of fun for the audience,” says Sienema, who directs the piece.

In another piece, the students must improvise a dance inspired by the audience and the music. The dancers don’t know what music they will be dancing to until they’re on stage.

According to Lyndsy Deshima, a third-year student who appears in the piece, the dancers will take ideas from the audience — such as verbs and activities like brushing your teeth — and turn them into a dance.

Sienema says by improvising, the dancers are showing the audience the process a choreographer goes through in creating a dance. “This is really good for people who are unfamiliar with dance,” she says.

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