UI Department of Dance’s ‘Graduate/Undergraduate Concert’ returns in-person

For the first time in three years, the ‘Graduate/Undergraduate Concert’ was able to take place, showcasing students as both choreographers and dancers in a unique opportunity to see all skill levels.


Gabby Drees

A University of Iowa student dances at North Hall on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022.

Emma Gaughan, Arts Reporter

The lights of Space Place Theater dimmed, and the audience grew quiet. When the lights came back up, student performers took the stage for the first in-person University of Iowa Department of Dance showcase since the start of the pandemic.

The dances were choreographed by graduate and undergraduate students, and additional performances took place on Dec. 9-10. 

First-year Master of Fine Arts candidate Brady Van Patten said this was his first opportunity to have his work performed in the department with an audience. 

“This is an exciting season too because we are stepping out of different things outside of COVID,” Van Patten said. “Seeing performers now without masks on is exhilarating and adding a new kind of magic to the show. You’re getting a nice representation of the department, from first years to seniors, and there are some graduates who are in the show as well.” 

Van Patten’s piece, “Belonged To,” featured three dancers and played on themes of community and finding where one belongs. He noted that he sought “joy and magic” when getting ready for the show. The weekend’s lineup included eight different dances.

“My move here from Chicago was a very harsh adjustment to find community again,” Van Patten said. “There is some symbolism in how you contain yourself and how there is a release, and you feel that sense of community and safety to show your true self.” 

The rehearsal process for the show started in August. Choreographers were given the opportunity to pitch ideas for the show, and it grew from there. 

“The department does a great job of giving feedback,” Van Patten said. “You feel very supported getting to this point on the stage.” 

Another Master of Fine Arts student, Sophia McLaughlin, also showcased her work. Her piece “Observations” combined aspects of botany and dance to create a piece reflective of both of her interests. 

“I went to a site, and me and the dancers observed everything that was there. I taught them some botanical ways to identify plants,” McLaughlin said. “Then we dug deeper into specific species that were there, and that ended up layering on top. It was kind of an experiment of how to bring that site to this space.” 

McLaughlin shared that her creative process includes giving herself strict structures and parameters to work in and create from. 

“I was really diving into observation, as well as botanical data collection. I took rules from that so that I had parameters. It wasn’t just wide open,” she said. “If I give myself some structure to work within, things come out of that.” 

RELATED: Bidding the semester goodbye with Graduate/Undergraduate Concert

“Same/Different,” choreographed by Master of Fine Arts student Todd Rhoades, looked into acts of intimacy, touch, and connection between women and men. 

“Growing up, I never saw men be gentle with each other, but I’d always see women, my family, friends, they’d fix each other’s collars, or their tags, or their necklace,” he said. “I wanted to explore this idea. If I saw the same movements that were created on female bodies, if I put it on male bodies, how would it look, and how would it feel?” 

In contrast to McLaughlin, Rhoades shared that his creative process is less structured. 

“There’s always these topics or ideas that are just below the surface, and there’s a moment where something might come up,” he said. “And when I start to feel like something, I try to bring in as many resources as possible.” 

After this performance, the department will start preparing for later concerts this spring. 

Facebook Comments