Choreographing a vision

Steamboat Dance Theater to hold concert auditions

Past Event

Steamboat Dance Theater's annual concert auditions

  • Sunday, September 30, 2007, 2 p.m.
  • Northwest Ballet of Steamboat Springs, 326 Oak St., Steamboat Springs
  • All ages / $15

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— The producers of the Steamboat Dance Theater's annual concert don't know from year to year what's going to come together.

But that - as well as an openness to all skill levels and an increase this year in the number of new choreographers stepping up to put their work on stage - is one of the organization's strengths, producer Deb Curd said.

"It's just people who love to dance," she said. "It's a really nice opportunity and way for those who probably have danced professionally in the past - and those who want to try to dance - to either continue your love for dance or to start it."

The dance theater will hold auditions for its annual concert at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Northwest Ballet Studio. The concert, scheduled for March 13 to 15, will be the group's 36th annual show.

With more than 20 pieces proposed this year, Curd said she has pared the list down to 16 to keep the concert less than two hours. About 12 of those pieces will be auditioned Sunday, in styles including jazz, modern, lyrical, African, swing and hip hop.

Wendy Smith Mikelsons, president of the dance theater, said the pieces are of all levels, and beginner dancers are welcome. Interested dancers don't need to prepare a piece in advance and won't have to dance by themselves for the auditions, she said.

Instead, each choreographer will prepare a short part of their piece to show at the beginning of the audition day, then dancers will have time to sign up for pieces that fit their skills and rehearsal availability.

Choreographers will teach 16 counts of their piece and choose dancers from there.

"Really, choreographers are just looking for how you move, how you pick up things," Smith Mikelsons said. "Even if you mess up, really they're just looking for how you move and your level."

Everyone who auditions and commits to weekly rehearsals from October through March will have a spot in the concert.

"Anybody who comes to auditions we find a place for. So if 90 people show up, 90 people are going to be in the concert," Curd said.

For this year's concert, choreographer Ryan Browning said he wants to do a contemporary ballet piece to an Imogen Heap song, and a hip hop piece. Browning's choreographing process is a long one - starting with a genre, then a song, number of dancers and an idea, then drawings of a stage with Xs and Os for people, playing the song on repeat and shutting himself off from the world, and so on.

"You want to tell a story, but you want to tell a story through movement and one that anybody can see and understand," Browning said. "Once you have your idea completely solidified, you start to sit down and think about what direction you want your choreography to go in."

An appropriate piece of music can add depth, and one movement can send the choreography of an entire piece into a snowball effect.

"It's a process of elimination," Browning said. "You find out what works for the piece and what doesn't work for the piece. And once you find what makes your vision effective, you sit and you start choreographing."

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