Dancescape returns for first in-person show since 2020 and ends with student tribute

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Carolyn Hauschild

Dancescape performed a variety of dances on Feb. 17-19 in the Fusillo Theater of the DuFresne Performing Arts Center. Eleven different dances of varying mood, pace and atmosphere were performed throughout a 90-minute show. The Dancescape cast dedicated their final Dancescape performance of the weekend to Dancescape performer Hannah Goman, who passed away over the weekend.

Heidi Hanson, features reporter

From Feb. 17-19, 2022, the dance performance, *“Dancescape”, was held in the Fusillo Theater in the DuFresne Performing Arts Center. One of their largest casts of dancers gathered to perform for the first time in-person since Dancescape 2020.

Dancescape’s process commences in early September every year, when the choreographers begin to submit ideas for their individual dances. Six months of time allows choreographers and dancers to really immerse themselves in the creative process of producing each dance.

Becca Braun, a senior choreographer and dancer for Dancescape, emphasized the importance of the long rehearsal process by explaining the show’s usual structure.

“I feel like most standard Dancescapes have each piece creating a separate world or universe; a lot of the time that’s what we describe it to be,” Braun stated. “So each piece kind of takes you somewhere completely different.”

The majority of the dances in Dancescape were choreographed by students and dancers in the program. Choreographers start brainstorming ideas and concepts for their dance projects in the summer before Dancescape auditions begin in September. This allows for enough time to build these different worlds on stage.

Erin Drummond, dance program director, assistant professor, artistic director and choreographer of Dancescape, also touched on the depth of work choreographers put into their dances every year.

“We really encourage the choreographers to take risks and stretch their understanding of what dance can be and what live performance can be,” Drummond said. “So that whole process really requires time for reflection and experimentation.”

Approximately 90 minutes long, Dancescape consisted of eleven dances, ranging in tone, speed and number of dancers. The time spent on the rehearsal process, including brainstorming, choreographing, lighting and costume design was immensely reflected throughout the show. The synchronicity of the dancers and complexity and variety of the choreography continued to be eye-catching and alluring through the very last minute of the show.

**The last performance of this year’s Dancescape was delivered on Saturday, Feb. 19. The final show was dedicated by the Dancescape cast to Hannah Goman, Dancescape member and sophomore social work student at Winona State, who passed away in the early hours on Saturday. Goman had performed in a variety of pieces and lit up the stage with her energy and spirit alongside fellow Dancescape performers and friends.

A huge part of Dancescape is the sense of community that grows throughout the time spent on rehearsing. With the number of rehearsals per week depending on how many numbers a dancer is in, the time rehearsing for individuals varies; however, with the extensive timeline of the rehearsal process as a whole, performers are nearly destined to grow emotionally close.

Erin Rademacher, a choreographer, dancer and senior in the show commented on introducing younger classmen into the Dancescape experience.

“It was really an awesome experience to get that bond with younger classmen and truly kind of loop them into what Dancescape is about and the environment we have, the closeness we have and openness we have towards each other,” Rademacher stated.

“Some of [the pieces] have really deep personal meanings and some of them are just for fun,” Jillian Pino, second-year student and one of the production assistants for Dancescape, said.

Each dance in Dancescape created a different universe on stage; the Dancescape process offi- cially begins in September of each year, where choreographers submit ideas and concepts for dances they have been conceptualizing since the summer before. This allows for reflection and building of emotion throughout each dance.
Each dance in Dancescape created a different universe on stage; the Dancescape process officially begins in September of each year, where choreographers submit ideas and concepts for dances they have been conceptualizing since the summer before. This allows for reflection and building of emotion throughout each dance. (Carolyn Hauschild)

Pino’s statement was very well demonstrated about halfway through the show, when two very different dances were performed back-to-back. Braun choreographed and performed a piece titled “g(r)o(w)ing.” The performance started with old voice recordings of Braun when she was younger, stating what she wanted to be when she grew up (a professional dancer, of course).

As the dance progressed, Braun pulled old dance costumes out of a chest in the middle of the stage while recent voice recordings expressed her fear of not knowing what to do with her future. To say Braun knew her audience is an understatement; the fear of future occupations and pathways pulled at the audience’s heartstrings, leaving the crowd a sniffling mess after the stage blacked out (needless to say, I cried like a baby and needed to change my mask).

The dance that followed was called “Jazzy Kind of Love,” choreographed by Erin Thomas. “Jazzy Kind of Love” featured a group of dancers in fun dresses eliciting a foxtrot-like energetic performance that had the audience smiling again. It was a complete 180 from the previous dance, providing the best kind of performative emotional whiplash.

This year’s Dancescape is the first performance in-person since Dancescape 2020. Thomas, choreographer, dancer and third- year also touched on incoming first-years joining the Dancescape community after two years of quarantine.

“A lot of the younger classmates haven’t even been in college in person and it’s really fun,” Thomas stated. “I feel that energy in the room and see that I’m making friendships since this is a huge part of their college experience.”

The transition from virtual to back in-person performances has shown to be very exciting for all of the dancers involved. COVID-19 circumstances impacted not only the performance itself but the rehearsal process as well because of social distancing rules and masking.

Jayde Grass, fourth-year student and production assistant of Dancescape, explained that the dance studio in Memorial Hall had to be divided into ten by ten foot squares for dancers to rehearse in. This year, the rehearsal process went back to being able to use the whole space.

“Not having fully moved in so long, you know, our bodies are kind of like going from that square to now using the entire space,” Grass said. “You kind of have to learn how to travel and move your body the way that you did; but it’s great, it’s fun and I’m very grateful.”

Dancing in-person and around other dancers is what makes dance, dance. A lot of what performers look forward to when performing a show is seeing their loved-ones in the audience and experiencing the audience’s responses.

“It’s really delightful to be in presence with people and for dance, [which is] such a kinesthetic art form,” Drummond said. “We use our spatial awareness and our sense of each other physically in space to do so much choice-making.”

Dancescape 2022 is the first in-person DancescapeCAROLYN performance since Dancescape 2020. Dancers were immensely excited and grateful for a new opportunity to perform in front of a live audience again.
Dancescape 2022 is the first in-person Dancescape performance since Dancescape 2020. Dancers were immensely excited and grateful for a new opportunity to perform in front of a live audience again. (Carolyn Hauschild)

Braun echoed this sentiment by mentioning the importance of every little physical aspect that goes into a Dancescape performance.

“I think that we are all just so eager to be back on stage with lights and costumes, makeup, hair, being able to [be with] each other, and dance and have all of our loved ones out in the audience,” Braun said.

Dancescape auditions take place in early September every year and Dancescape executives are always looking for more people to join. In terms of getting involved in the near future, Dance Society meets every week in Memorial Hall 300; if interested, contact the president of Dance Society, Jayde Grass, at [email protected]

Becca Braun and Jayde Grass are also co-directing a show called “Encore,” the senior spring dance concert. Auditions are from 5 to 7 p.m. in Memorial 300 on Wednesday, Feb. 23. Anyone can join, even if they’ve never been involved in a dance show before.

Dance has shown to be a huge and very important aspect to dance students’ lives and college experiences. The Dancescape performance elicited passion from each dancer and it demonstrated the power dance has in performing and creating art in a physically and emotionally beautiful form.

“I learned a lot about what dance can be,” Grass said. “[It’s] such a welcoming and loving and fun environment and I’m loving that we get to share it with so many new people.”

 

*At the time of planning and writing this article, the Winonan staff were unaware of Winona State student and Dancescape member Hannah Goman’s passing. Goman, 20, from Stevens Point, Wis., was a sophomore and social work student at Winona State involved in the dance community and on-campus tutoring, among other things. The Winonan plans to dedicate an individual article in memoriam of Goman and her impact on the Winona State community in next week’s edition.

**Director of Student Life Denise McDowell sent an announcement via email to the Winona State community on Sunday, Feb. 20, following Goman’s passing on Saturday.

To donate to Goman’s family, access their gofundme titled “Help the Goman family!” created by their family friend, Korryn Dean. The Power of $5 nonprofit in Winona has also set up a place to donate via Venmo, Paypal, Facebook, etc. To access donation information, go to @power_of_5dollars on Instagram. The Winonan, alongside the Winona State community, sends its sincere condolences to Goman’s family and friends.