Faculty/Graduate Dance Concert bringing life to ideas

The Faculty/Graduate Dance Concert, with free admission, provides people with the opportunity to take a break and enjoy the arts.


David Harmantas

Students in the University of Iowa’s Department of Dance perform in a dress rehearsal for the Faculty/Graduate Concert in Space Place Theater on Tuesday, Feb 5., 2019. (David Harmantas/The Daily Iowan)

Haley Triem, Arts Reporter

Dancers sit on the floor in front of the stage, stretching and laughing as their directors tease them from their perches at the top of the auditorium. The lights dim, everyone falls silent, and a group of dancers flutter onto the stage, performing to the auditorium as if the whole world were watching.

Today, Friday, and Saturday, at 8 p.m. in Space/Place, the Dance Department will present the Faculty/Graduate Concert. The concert features pieces that were choreographed by the University of Iowa dance faculty and graduate students.

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“It’s a wonderful platform for graduate students to create work from an idea that they want to bring alive,” UI dance Associate Professor Eloy Barragán said. “It’s like a lab, because there are great opportunities but without the full production. The pieces are put together in a very short time. We put work here and bring it alive.”

The idea is to provide freshmen with the ability to make a performance straight into concert.”

— Armando Duarte, director of Dance Production

This concert will highlight a piece created by an all first-year group this year.

“The idea is to provide freshmen with the ability to make a performance straight into concert,” said Armando Duarte, the director of Dance Production.

The chance to compose and perform is crucial for aspiring dancers, and the Dance Department seeks to provide an outlet.

“All of our students must audition,” Duarte said. “Some freshmen get in. The first-year seminar was planted to provide an environment for freshmen. They know they’re performing at the beginning of the semester. They have the anticipation.”

In light of this, many of the themes expressed in the performances reflect the vulnerability incoming freshmen might have, regardless of which college they are entering.

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“Freshmen arrive with youth to a place they don’t know,” Barragán said. “Sometimes, you can find yourself completely alone. When I was 16, I lived in NYC alone, I didn’t know English. I was lonely. Little by little, I got to know people, to know the language, to get support I needed. Empathy, communal support, and love are all essential to survive.”

But this program is not only beneficial for the students performing; it is also an entertainment opportunity for non-dance majors.

“The idea is diverse enough that there is always something for someone to enjoy,” Duarte said. “For a college town, there are nine theaters nearby. The University of Iowa is an institution well-known for three things: hospitals, sports culture, and the arts … The arts are a vessel for your emotions. Rest a little bit, come and enjoy an art experience.”

It is the general consensus among the art professionals of the city that arts opportunities such as this one should be seized by students and locals alike.

“With the political climate happening now, globally, with all the racial and cultural discourse, in this turbulent moment, I believe that art is a healer,” Barragán said. “Visual performance, film, costume, text, music, dance — any art form can express in a poetic and human way what people feel. There are so many resources here at the university. Art feeds humanity.”

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