Taste of practical design experience

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Budding choreographer incorporate of traditional ballet, modern and contemporary dance into their design pieces. Ai Mitton/ UVU Review

Budding choreographer incorporate of traditional ballet, modern and contemporary dance into their design pieces. Ai Mitton/ UVU Review

As students, there are many opportunities to learn new skills, however the best way to gain a thorough grasp on those newly-found skills is through real life experience.

The third annual Choreography Design Project allowed local dancers to compete for the opportunity to choreograph and create an entire dance piece and to then have their number performed and judged.

This project is funded by the Orem City CARE (Cultural Arts and Recreation Enrichment) grant and offers the designers the possibility to further their choreography careers.

The project, open for anyone to enter was quickly narrowed down to six finalists, with four in the “emerging division,” the devision for those no previous choreography experience. The two other finalists were in the “professional division,” and have had some experience with choreography.

The first four pieces performed on Feb. 11 and 12 at the Ragan theater were from the emerging division. The choreographers were Elizabeth Scott, Lily Bridgewater, Missy Seawright and Roxanne DeBord.

One piece had a sort of Native American flair to it, and seemed almost as if the dancers were preparing for battle. The use of rich colors on the stage was quite intoxicating. What made this piece still more impressive  was choreographed by the young Lily Bridgewater who is a only freshman in high school.

From the professional division there were two finalists, Shani Robinson and Shayla Bott.

Each of their pieces had its own fresh style and artistic allure, but my personal favorite was called “Adaptation,” which was choreographed by Missy Seawright.

This piece started out in a traditional ballet style, and then shifted to a hip-hop beat. This was a fun piece that combined elements of the classic and a newer, more modern vibe.

The process the finalists must go through to produce their pieces is not an easy one. Those chosen must take their original piece, and in the short time of two weeks must take it from concept to production. They must determine how many dancers are needed and come up with costume ideas, music and lighting.

“This is a big opportunity, this is a really good real life experience. And it prepares them for the real world of dance,” said Jacqueline Colledge, artistic director of the Utah Regional Ballet which is in residency here at UVU.

This project not only gives real life experience to these budding choreographers, but it is also a chance for dance majors, many of which are part of the Utah Regional Ballet, to work with choreographers and learn new steps in a short amount of time.

“We require them to do ballet, contemporary and modern; it’s good for dancers. They have to be well rounded,” Colledge said.

During the two performances, the audience members were asked not to speak with the judges, in order to keep their assessments unbiased.

After the judges tallied up the results and all was said and done, it was Missy Seawright who won in the emerging division, and Shayla Bott who won in the professional division. And both have the great, real-life opportunity to further their choreography careers. It looks like we, thankfully, haven’t seen the last of those two. It will be exciting to see what inspiring pieces they come up with next.