Springfield Ballet presents its 7th annual Young Choreographers Showcase Thursday, June 28 at 6:30 PM in the Springfield Art Museum auditorium. This student-produced production includes original ballet, modern and jazz choreography as well as improvised dance inspired by works at Springfield Art Museum.
Springfield Ballet School faculty member Teresa Simpson is one of the several faculty mentors for the student choreographers. She says this is the third year the Art Museum auditorium has hosted the performance. “I just kind of keep them on track and make sure that they get feedback and advice. I help with editing music if they need help with that as well.”
Springfield Ballet School dancer Haddy Geltmeyer has created one dance number in which she will perform, and she’s performing in a piece choreographed by one of the other students. She describes the process of getting a dance work accepted in the Young Choreographers Showcase.
“It starts off with, you pick a song, and all the dance that you want to do. And then we have meetings in front of a board of (faculty) mentors” who provide critiques and suggestions, “just adding things that would maybe work a little bit better since they’re more experienced and they know how it works. And then we slowly make little changes until we’re ready for it to be put on the stage.”
There are 13 choreographers this year in the Showcase. “You can either be a dancer or a choreographer, or both,” says Geltmeyer.
Teresa Simpson says the Ballet began this program because “we noticed that a lot of our students were coming up with creative ideas and wanted a venue to share those. They had no outlet. So this provides them an outlet for it. And the great thing about the Art Museum (auditorium) is now they’re in a real theater space. So we also have students doing technical theater—they are all the ones running everything backstage as well. So it’s an exposure to those technical theater jobs, and kind of an appreciation for what they see in the normal productions as well.”
That’s where Emily Orr comes in. “I’m the house manager and the stage manager. As stage manager I’ll be backstage making sure every dancer knows when they’re going to be onstage. And has house manager I’ll be introducing each piece and stating their inspiration, what inspired them to create this dance.” She adds, “We are all so excited—we have been working so hard, both the people onstage and offstage. We’re excited to have this outreach opportunity to get into the community and show each individual dancer, and why we dance—our inspiration to dance.”
Haddy Geltmeyer says the students have chosen a wide variety of music to choreograph, with a correspondingly wide variety of dance styles represented. “If we find a piece of music that inspires us, we will wait for it to be approved”—no vocals with lyrics, as these are distracting for dancers and audience alike. So if a student chooses a pop song to set to dance, usually they’ll choose an instrumental-only arrangement. Her own music choice was a Led Zeppelin song, but in a non-vocal version. “There are some people who are doing classical music. It ranges far and wide.” And she says the choreography ranges from “classical ballet to contemporary ballet and some in between. I think there’s a jazz piece as well.”
The performance will run about an hour, with a ten-minute intermission. Concessions will be available, says faculty mentor Teresa Simpson. “It’s a donation-based concession table that our families, and the participants and choreographers in the Showcase have put together. All the proceeds from that go back to our scholarship and outreach programs at Springfield Ballet.” Otherwise admission to the Young Choreographers Showcase is free.
For information call Springfield Ballet at 862-1343 or visit www.springfieldballet.org.