FULLY IMMERSED IN DANCE

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By Chloe Shantz-Hilkes

None of the pieces are more than four or five minutes long, but even after the shortest among them, dancers emerge from under the spotlights flushed and sweaty.

It’s not that they are unfit. Once the house lights come on and the dress rehearsal ends, the stage swarms with the healthiest of Ryerson’s student body.

Choreographic Works is the Ryerson Theatre School’s annual showcase of short dances choreographed and performed by students ranging from first to fourth year.

Third-year student Miranda Forbes has invested both physical and emotional energy into her group piece. Her piece, titled “A Dare,” was largely inspired by her grandfather’s stroke.

Added to that, she says, are aspects of numerous other pieces that she has choreographed over the past three years.

“You’re so in it,” Forbes says, explaining how involved she has become with the pieces she’s choreographed. “You’ve created it.”

Forbes is one of over 50 dancers and technical production students involved in the creation of the show.

Over the length of the 10 day run — beginning March 5 — participants may be involved in up to 12 shows.

Still, for Forbes the prospect isn’t daunting, in fact quite the opposite. “No!” she says, “It’s exciting. I’m excited!”

A fellow third-year dancer, Christianne Ullmark says she feels more nervous about performing in front of her peers and teachers than in front of a real audience.

This may have something to do with the intense scrutiny students’ pieces undergo at the hands of professors.

After every rehersal, however minor, the show’s producer Vicky St. Denys has a small sheaf of notes to deliver to her dancers.

To those who are unfamiliar with this practice, the criticism sounds harsh. Both Ullmark and Forbes insist, however, that it is not only necessary, it’s welcome.

“I trust the faculty here immensely,” says Forbes. “If they tell me to change something I know it’s not vindictive.”

Ullmark added that without feedback, you can’t always see yourself as you seem to an audience.

She says that sometimes pieces are so personal, it’s easy to forget that it’s a performance and that the goal, ultimately, is still bums in seats.

“You can forget that it’s a stage,” she says. “It’s still a stage.”

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