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Moving to the beat of community

In a small intimate space, audience members are brought together through dance to experience the importance of community in Orchesis Dance: When Movement Merges. The performance was on April 7-9 at Weber State University.

Orchesis dancers outstretching their arms while dancing in "Unconscious Caged Mind."
Orchesis dancers outstretch their arms while dancing in "Unconscious Caged Mind." Photo credit: Kennedy Robins

Jo Blake, assistant professor of dance, wanted the audience to feel connected like they do in a community. To do this, sheets that mimicked roots hung from the rafters.

“A friend of mine told me about the documentary ‘Fantastic Fungi,’ where they were talking about the roots and how they actually talk to one another and spread signals when they’re being attacked or need to share nutrients,” Blake said. “From there, it kept stemming and stemming, and then we came up with this idea on how does it interconnect and bring all these community members together.”

Dances were performed by the Weber State Moving Company, Ogden Movement Collective and Contemporary Repertory, with students choreographing some pieces. Though each dance was different, they all had the same connecting meaning of community.

They explored different ways of dancing to music. One piece used a singing bowl, a bowl that one hits and slides the stick around the edge to make sound, for most of the piece. The dancer who played the bowl stayed in the center while the other dancers revolved around them.

Live accompanist Dan Pack playing his cello in the beginning of "Beautiful Souls", choreographed by Paul Wright.
Live accompanist Dan Pack plays his cello in the beginning of "Beautiful Souls," choreographed by Paul Wright. Photo credit: Kennedy Robins

Like the singing bowl, they also played a piece on the cello. However, unlike the constant sound of the singing bowl, the cello played sounds that the dancers reacted to. The dancers were puppets to the musical instrument.

On top of the performances, lights were set up to create shadows on the walls, making it seem as if there were even more dancers performing and added more to the overarching idea that there is community everywhere, no matter how large or small.

“I think it addressed the many aspects of community,” Kassie Serrano, WSU alumni audience member, said, “right down to the individual and how they incorporate and see themselves within that community. Then the ways different communities within the larger express themselves.”

Through each performance, the audience was brought together through dance and were able to see all of the facets and nuances that come with a community.

Marisa Prollo, an audience member, said that she loved the unifying theme. Though each dance was so different, they still had the same theme, and, to her, that was powerful.

Every piece that made up this performance shared an underlying theme of community and even though each piece was unique and different, every one worked together in unison to strengthen the message of community.

Weber State University Orchesis dancers dancing in "We Move Among the Mass, Again" choreographed by Natosha Washington and Jo Blake.
Weber State Orchesis dancers perform "We Move Among the Mass, Again" choreographed by Natosha Washington and Jo Blake. Photo credit: Kennedy Robins
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Lexie Andrew
Lexie Andrew, Culture editor