After a semester of hard work, UW-Eau Claire students show off their dance moves

Dance students performed at Danceworks 2015 last weekend



Senior Mic Nelson struts his stuff for the crowd in the second piece of the show, titled “My Eyes are Sizzling.”

Story by Anna Mateffy, Photo Editor

The audience hushed as the show began with a handful of overhead lights on stage and only the sound of stomping as members of the Ensemble filled the stage, one by one. Without music, the sounds the dancers’ bodies made bounced off the walls, filling the space.

The music swelled a couple minutes afterwards, drowning out the dancers’ clapping that joined the stomping about a minute later.

The Ensemble is a group of seven dance students who gathered for around ten hours a week since the beginning of the semester to put Danceworks 2015 together. They were lead by Julie Fox, assistant professor of dance for UW-Eau Claire; Paula Mann, a visiting instructor at Eau Claire this semester; Lynn Buske, a community member and James Morrow, assistant professor of dance at Salem State University.

Jody Herrmann, a junior psychology major and dance minor, said it was an exhausting but rewarding experience. Not only did they put together this event, but developed a community youth production titled “Hands Toward Peace.”

Through developing that production, they created their first number in the show, titled “Evolving Towards Peace.”

“It was about the struggle that everyone goes about finding peace and choosing when you’re going to be peaceful,” Herman said. “That back and forth between not being able to find peace in your life and how it affects your entire life.”

The second piece, titled “My Eyes are Sizzling” straddled the line between humor and absurdity. The dancers wore contrasting outfits of black and white, giving the stage an old-Hollywood feel. The audience quietly chuckled at parts, seemingly unsure whether or not to laugh.

For that piece, the music began with a broadway-esque opening score which abruptly ended, as did the other pieces of music for the number. The Ensemble members strutted, bounced and shook their shoulders while moving across the stage, only to stop suddenly with the music and walk off stage.

“The second piece was just a lot of fun,” Herrmann said. “It was a lot of weird, quirky things. It was a lot of fun to perform, that’s for sure. I’m not sure if the audience got the humor in it.”

She said it was very different for her because it wasn’t about the complexities of movement, but the small details that make dance funny.

During the intermission, sophomore Hannah Ward said the show was a surprise for her.

“I was a competition dancer for seven years and this was unlike any type of performance I have ever seen,” Ward said. “I’m used to seeing dances that are more focused on leaps, turns and kicks … (the performance was) not all about tricks.”

Doks Robotiks opened the second half of the show with three tunes. Often called “Doks,” the local band is known for its tension between jazz and hip hop. The group has nine members and took up the back third of the stage for their solo set.

The final number was a collaboration piece between the Ensemble and Doks. Over time, the two groups created both the music and dance at the same time, making it a fluid number.

Dok’s bass player Lauren Anderson said it was a different experience for everyone involved.

“We had to improvise a lot initially,” Anderson said.

Herrmann said Fox, who choreographed the piece, never tells her dancers what she intends it to mean.

“I saw it as embracing your individuality, but also realizing the pressures around you,” Herrmann said.

It was on a choreographic score, Herrmann explained. Rather than the dancers having specifically set movements, they had a space with which to work and different movements they could choose to use in that space. That kind of freedom means each of the three nights was different.

“It was great,” Herrmann said. “It’s a really cool experience to be able to put some of yourself in the dance.”