Orchesis opens fall show

Contributing Writer
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Tim Grabnic, '13, and Kerri Barron, '15, stole the show in "Can't Help Falling in Love With You." ANDREW CROFFORD/THE CAMPUS.

Allegheny students will once again showcase their talents this weekend at Orchesis, the annual dance production. For President Brittany Johnson, ‘12 and Promotions Chair Tracy-Ann Walters, ‘12, this performance will be bittersweet, as they choreograph and dance for the show for the last time.

One hundred and forty students and 20 different dances will be featured in several different genres. All of the pieces are choreographed by students.

The choreographers’ efforts have been noticed by a number of students. Kaitlyn Bloom, ’13, had never seen a dance performance until she saw Orchesis two years ago. She said the fact that students choreograph the pieces gives the show another dimension.

“I just think it is generally more enjoyable to see dances put on by our peers,” Bloom said. “I don’t know if Orchesis would be better if it was directed by professors, but the fact that it is choreographed by students adds an additional, unique element to the show.”

Duane Baptiste, ‘13, thinks that a show run by professors would be too formal and specific.

“I think by having students choreograph, it allows for more variety in genres and dancer involvement,” he said.

The student choreographers explain the joy they get from designing the dances.

“Seeing something I choreographed myself on stage at the end of eight weeks is always amazing,” said Brittany Johnson, ‘12.

Johnson, who danced for 12 years prior to college, is also a performer in the production.
“I really enjoy dancing,” she said. “I love choreographing and I like it because it’s my own work, but on the other hand I just love learning new styles of dance, or other peoples’ styles.”

Tracy-Ann Walters, a choreographer and Promotions Chair of Orchesis, also explained her passion for the annual dance performance.

“In one word, Orchesis means expression,” she said. “Orchesis allows people to express their emotions through dance. This purpose is to give the opportunity to dancers, and those who have never performed before to work together and grow in dance.”

Although some people in Orchesis have prior dance experience, others do not.

“It really gives people a chance that have never danced before to shine and show that they can do something more than the academics here,” said Johnson.

Prior to Allegheny, the only dance experience Baptiste had was “stepping,” which he describes as making rhythm with just your body by stomping on the ground, clapping, or a combination of the two.

Orchesis is composed of dancers who have trained their entire lives, as well as brand new, untrained dancers. Working with individuals with different leves of experience also provides a chance for new dancers to learn and grow, said choreographer Brittany Johnson, '12. ELLIOTT BARTELS/THE CAMPUS.

“I got dragged into Orchesis my freshman year and I had a lot of fun,” said Baptiste. “Even though it’s a lot of work, this is my third year now.”

After auditions, students and choreographers practice one night a week for eight weeks, with an hour long practice per dance.

“I put this much time and energy into it so I’m really looking forward to it,” said Baptiste.

“I always look forward to the dances I’m in because I want to make sure I get the reaction out of people. If I don’t get a reaction out of the audience then I haven’t done a good job performing.”

“A lot of great pieces are happening this year because I have seen them all throughout,” said Johnson. “It’s been nice to see all of them grow into what they are today.”