Dancing on the move, in Davies


In a common place where students gather to eat, study or chat with friends, six UW-Eau Claire dancers caused many to look away from their books and computer screens.

The dancers traveled on an artistic journey through the Davies Center for this year’s Fall Dance Project.

As a site-specific dance work exploring an alternative space, “The Meeting Place” occurred on Oct. 30 and Nov. 1 in six different areas inside and outside Davies.

This project sought to give meaning to the ways students interact and converse with each other on a daily basis, Julie Fox, assistant professor of dance said.

“It’s a play on how we conduct our personal selves in public spaces,” Fox said.

As the performance of contemporary dance progressed from the small pit under the first floor grand staircase to larger areas like the Blugold Living Room and the amphitheater outside, the audience observed a development of intimacy and relationship between the performers, Fox said. Each dance vignette, separated by a bell tone, highlighted a different type of moment people share with
others they know.

The dance in The Dulany Inn showed a moment of connection between a couple, while movement in a recess on third floor portrayed a collaboration and association among a group of people, she said. The dancers seemed to enact concepts of meeting friends, apathetically going through the motions of life and coming together or away from others as common parts of the human experience.

The music, played by dance accompanist Terrance Karn, ranged from soft accordion café-style music to loud percussion instrumentation.

For this project, student choreographers Calvin Franke and Kelly Aspeslet, along with Fox, created the dance before consulting Karn about how the musical flavor would enhance the movement. Fox said this allowed the dance to inform the music and the music to give the dance “aural life.”

In the eight week process of rehearsing the piece, Franke, a senior dance minor, found it particularly challenging to choreograph in the Davies Center.

“Creating work for site specific work, specifically, is more of a challenge because you’re informed by the site,” Franke said. “It’s not just creating movement and placing people on an empty stage. You have to work with objects and people and a different landscape than you’re used to.”

This unique landscape gave audiences the opportunity to engage with the performers. The dancers dashed past spectators in the third floor hallway and took seats casually next to audience members on the stone benches of the amphitheater.

“I thought it was really cool how the audience also became part of the show,” senior Holly Bergman said.

Clara Kennedy, a freshman dance minor, said she liked performing in the Davies Center because it created a more personal atmosphere for the dancers and observers.

The dancers even addressed the audience in the fifth piece of the show at the amphitheater, waving at the observers on the third floor terrace and inviting them to come down for the last piece.

The final section of the project in the amphitheater represented the dancers as a group of people who have varying relationships with others, but come together as a unified community, Fox said. They create something larger than themselves.

“The real gem of a project like this,” Fox said, “is that it brings to life, in a performative sense, who we are as people.”