The BYU Department of Dance will highlight the classic creative process in three dancEnsemble (dE) performances from Nov. 10-11. A new dE performance is expected every semester, however, this semester’s production returns to traditional origins by giving full creative freedom to the dancers.
Karlee Brotherson, student vice president of dE, said this semester’s production of dE is unique because it includes a full, specialized company piece created by faculty member Lehua Brown that will be featured as the last piece in the show.
“People should come to see dancEnsemble because it is a completely student-led creation,” said Brotherson. “We also know we could not do without the direction of our artistic director, Kate Monson. Her main goal is to give us ideas and direction, although student choreographers make the final decision. Each piece is unique just as each of our choreographers are unique in age, background and experiences, and therefore have the ability to speak to many different people.”
Dance Professor Kate Monson is the newly instated director of dE. She said this experience has given her the thrill of watching students go through the creative process from inception to production. She said it has also been satisfying for her to come full circle with dE.
While studying as an undergraduate of Dance at BYU, Monson was a member of dE for five consecutive semesters and served as student president of dE for her last two. She choreographed four pieces over the five semesters and described those opportunities as spiritual and educational gifts.
“My first semester choreographing in dE, I felt closer than I ever had before to seeing a glimpse of what it meant to be a creator,” Monson said. “I think anyone who is passionate about what they do has an innate sense that whatever that passion is, it has some ability to illuminate a tiny portion of the eternal. That is what choreography does for me.”
Lauren Evans, the current student president of dE, shared her experience with the choreographic process. “As always with choreography, change is difficult. Killing off ideas that mean a lot to you is challenging at times. Especially because choreographing leaves you vulnerable and getting rid of those ideas you have an emotional connection to requires a lot of courage. For me, changing the sequence of my piece in order for it to flow better was a real challenge. In the end, the product has turned out much better than what it originally was.”
Evans said audiences should expect original pieces with movement that ranges from mechanical to free. She explained that this semester’s production of dE differs from others because of the new artistic direction by Monson. She works differently from previous directors, allowing choreographers and performers to reflect deeper on their inspirations and research further about how that informs their movement.
“This semester's concert is what I have started calling ‘dE classic’ because it is the structure that existed when dE was started,” said Monson. “Which is to give full artistic reign to our student choreographers and let them decide what they want to choreograph, how they want to go about it and just let them loose. We don’t always do dE classic these days, but it is a freedom in the creative process that I appreciated as a student and as a professional. It is something I rarely get the opportunity to do but is so fun when it happens.”
Brotherson describes her rehearsal experience with dE as a unique and fulfilling experience because the sole purpose is to allow students the opportunity to work on choreographic pieces and collaborate with their dancers.
“As a choreographer for the show this fall,” said Brotherson. “I have felt the joy that comes from presenting an idea, and with the help of dancers and faculty members, being able to see it come to fruition. These rehearsals have taught me the joys of the creative process and reminded me that it is not always about the end result as much as the journey that you take in order to get there.”
As a highly creative genre, contemporary modern dance values personal voice because it does not possess a codified movement vocabulary. Monson said, “I think audiences will see pieces that cover a wide variety of movement and qualities that are personal to the creator and have the freedom to express in a very personalized way somehow makes it a more satisfying experience for the spectator.”