Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Spring into Dance to perform with percussion ensemble for semester showcase

Friday, April 1, 2022
Dancer Emma Knowlton waits for a cue from musician Christopher Wilson to start her next sequence of movements at the 2019 Fall for Dance performance. The 2022 Spring into Dance performance is collaborating with SEMO's percussion ensemble for the first time in several years.
Photo by Jelani Days

The Southeast River Campus will host the annual Spring into Dance performance April 7 through 10. The dance will be directed by associate professor and coordinator of dance Hilary Peterson. Dancers will perform to a variety of music.

“It's not classical or elevator music; I like to use pieces of music by Benjamin Clemintine, a contemporary artist, there will be pieces from Tears for Fears, and this year, we will have a few pieces with live music from SEMO’s percussion ensemble,” Peterson said.

Peterson said this year's Spring Into Dance will be different from previous years because they will have two guest artists when they usually have one. They are also collaborating with the music department again for the first time in several years.

Senior BFA dance major Emma Knowlton will be part of the performance. Knowlton is also choreographing part of the Spring into Dance performance.

“We are collaborating with SEMO's percussion ensemble this year, so we will have live music for some of the pieces, which is always exciting for the dancers and the audience,” Knowlton said.

Junior percussion major Ethan Brown will play with the percussion ensemble in the performance.

“Performing with live dancers is definitely exhilarating and an exhausting task, but it is really cool to see the two professions work with one another,” Brown said.

With snowstorms in February and early March along with COVID-19, some of the preparations for the event presented challenges for those involved.

“The snow days did present challenges for me as a choreographer. I had to cancel a few rehearsals, because of the snow days. Though, I ended up using those snow days to reflect on my work. I would watch videos from previous rehearsals and journal about what I was seeing and what I felt like I was communicating through the work,” Knowlton said.

Peterson said the winter storm shutdowns made it more difficult to get pieces completed in time, and COVID-19 presented challenges due to the amount of physical touch involved in the dances.

“That and the cardiovascular nature of dance was a bit of a problem with the masks on,” Peterson said.

Brown said the percussion ensemble also faced problems as they prepared, but they were different challenges from the ones the dancers experienced.

“Preparing and rehearsing [for this show] is so much different, since this is a production and not a concert, so we are left with trying [to] figure things out in production, as we have come to realize this is vastly different than preparing for a concert,” Brown said.

Brown said he thinks one of their hardest pieces to perform is “Trio,” due to its complexity in each part and how it intertwined with the performers.

One of the dance pieces was choreographed by guest artist Brandon Coleman, and all senior dance majors will do the piece together as one of their last dances before graduation.

“It's a really fun piece to perform, and I think it will make the audience want to get up and dance with us,” Knowlton said. “The cast of this piece is a really tightly-knit group, and I think the audience will get a sense of that when they watch us. Since we are all seniors, it is the last time we will get to dance all together on stage before we graduate. Sharing the stage with my friends one last time will be a bittersweet experience.”

Knowlton said she expects a strong turnout for Spring into Dance with friends, family, peers and members of the Cape Girardeau community and beyond in attendance.

“I think the audience will be worried at first when seeing our aerial piece with performers being tossed within the air for one of our pieces, but will come to love it, as I don’t expect the audience to be quiet for most of the performance, as I think they will be excited and cheer for the choreographers' stunts and moves throughout the performance,” Peterson said. With Brown wanting people to come see how professional the performance will be.

“People should check the event out because it is going to be a professional collaboration, and it is going to keep everyone engaged and propelled,” Brown said.

To view and see more upcoming events, visit the River Campus website.