UI students to present dances of multiple styles at Dance End of Semester Event

This weekend, undergraduate and graduate students will present a series of works in a virtual End of Semester Event hosted by the Dance Department.


Photo of dancers Allie Recht and Mackenzee Albert. Contributed.

Abby McCusker, Arts Reporter

Undergraduate student Allie Recht’s said her piece, “That’s a Lesbian Thing?” made her feel more comfortable being gay in the University of Iowa Dance Department. She said her performance at the End of Semester Event, with fellow undergraduate Mackenzee Albert, allows her to celebrate her sexual orientation.

The End of Semester Event, hosted by the Dance Department will be available for virtual streaming on May 8 at 8 p.m. This year, the event will feature eight performances and can be streamed on the Dance Department’s website.

The performance does not feature any sort of overarching theme, and all students within the department could submit any type of work for the virtual audience. Graduate student Darrius Gray said that the event was an opportunity for students to show audiences what they have been working on, especially students doing independent projects.

The lack of an overarching theme has enabled students to create performances that can help them grow both personally and as dancers. Graduate student Kyle Ayers said that the performance opportunity gave him a chance to learn a variety of different skills.

“I’ve learned how to self-direct and be a little bit more spontaneous,” Ayers said. “I’ve learned to do work that I enjoy instead of work that I feel ‘ought to be doing,’ whatever that is. Even really practical things, like learning how to edit.”

Gray noted that his piece has given him the opportunity to express the whirlwind of emotions from the past year.

“The piece really reflects on how I felt last year, even before coming into the program here. A feeling of isolation, a feeling of distortion, a feeling of not knowing what will happen in the future for everyone. The physical embodiment of that,” he said.

According to the Dance Department’s website, audience members will view the first piece and then be directed to each piece following in a “virtual gallery crawl” on the department’s website.

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Each performer has a different message behind their piece and a different effect they hope the performance draws from the audience. Recht said that she hopes her dance will make being a gay female in dance easier to accept.

“Sometimes it is such a woman-dominated field, some people might be hesitant to talk about females being gay,” Recht said. “There are gay guys in dance and that’s the ‘stereotype,’ but no one really talks about gay women because we are surrounded by women. I’m hoping it makes it a bit more comfortable to acknowledge, even if there’s not an open conversation about.”

Gray’s piece focuses on the physical embodiment of what his life has been like over the past few years. He said he expects the piece to be an excerpt from his thesis. Gray also expressed his hope that the performance will bring questions to the minds of the audience.

“I want the audience to be moved by it or ask questions. It’s kind of a dark piece but it has a lot of embodied movement scattered through it, not just through the choreography but also emotionally,” Gray said. “I like to do work where how I’m feeling in the moment is how I create in the moment. Watching it definitely sums up last year.”

Ayers expressed that he wants the audience to understand the choreography but also wants to create an emotional response.

“The ability to pick up on some of the nuances of how the choreography is structured and some of the emotional content that is also there, because the piece did come from a place of a very specific type of frustration with myself and I tried to harness that in the work,” Ayers said. “I hope that it in some way makes that relatable to an audience.”