This spring break, Carleton’s modern dance company took Missouri State University by storm.
Semaphore’s piece, “Elevator For One,” impressed adjudicators at the central region conference, earning the dancers the privilege to perform at the National Gala Concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The American College Dance Festival Association’s 2012 National College Dance Festival, held May 24-27, will feature performances by 30 of the finest collegiate dance companies in the United States, with Semaphore making its second appearance ever.
“It really is the underdog story,” said student co-director Emily Ban ‘12, adding that many of the companies selected to perform at the gala come from rigorous dance conservatories with the benefits of constant professional guidance and direction.
While Semaphore’s faculty advisors, Judith Howard and Jane Shockley, provide invaluable wisdom and support, the group of 16 dancers relies primarily on Ban and her co-director, Elise Erickson ’12, to run rehearsals and even choreograph potential pieces.
Indeed, Erickson choreographed “Elevator For One” for Semaphore after taking classes and learning from professional dancers at the American Dance Festival at Duke last summer.
“After my experience at the ADF, I decided to do something really different,” Erickson said. “The piece really goes against the convention of what people typically see as dance.”
Dedicated to highlighting the awkwardness of everyday, pedestrian human experiences, her piece features a significant amount of improvisation that ultimately relies on the unique personalities of Semaphore’s dancers.
“I was trying to reveal a sense of humanness,” Erickson said. “The dancers were vital, and they really made it their own.”
Dancer Molly Work ’14 describes the 11.5-minute piece as “filled with lots of oddball vignettes.”
With Ban bursting out into what she describes as a “diva solo,” Rebecca Brown ‘10 eating Skittles on stage, and the whole cast borrowing a few moves from Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” music video, adjudicators at the regional conference applauded the piece’s humor and inventiveness.
“The dance was different from anything else that was performed, and truly encapsulates a kind of quirky, funny, Carleton spirit,” Work said.
Before heading to Washington D.C. for their appearance at nationals, Semaphore will bring its fun-loving spirit to a collaboration with the theater department in its production of the play “The Oresteia,” scheduled to be presented in the Weitz Theater May 11-13, 18 and 20.