Dancescape prepares for annual production

Allison Mueller

Dancescape performers rehearse Gretchen Cohenour’s piece, “Moonscape,” to be performed Feb. 18 through 20 at 7:30 p.m. on the Vivian Fusillo Main Stage. (Photo by Sarah Murray)
Dancescape performers rehearse Gretchen Cohenour’s piece, “Moonscape,” to be performed Feb. 18 through 20 at 7:30 p.m. on the Vivian Fusillo Main Stage. (Photo by Sarah Murray)

Gina Scott / Winonan

The Winona State University department of theatre and dance will present “Dancescape 2016” this Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. After almost a year of production, students, faculty, alumni and guest choreographers will showcase their work on the Performing Arts Center Vivian Fusillo Main Stage.

This is Dancescape’s 26th year and it features a cast and crew of 65 members. Dance proposals were due last April, and auditions were held the second week of fall classes in 2015. Tech production started in the beginning of the spring semester.

“It really is a developmental process because dance is a collaborative art form,” Artistic Director Gretchen Cohenour said.

Cohenour is also contributing her choreography with a piece titled “Moonscape,” which will be performed by 12 student dancers.

“Choreographers hold auditions and cast students based on stage presence, technical ability or just something that catches their eye to build a community around the idea of their project,” Cohenour said.

Anybody is able to submit work in the spring for Dancescape and all students are eligible to be a dancer. This allows for a variety of pieces to be showcased, including hip-hop, salsa, jazz and contemporary dances.

Senior Hannah Lefebvre is participating in her third year of Dancescape and has choreographed a piece which will feature eight dancers, including herself.

“I was inspired by a bible verse, Isaiah 41:10,” Lefebvre said. “It says, ‘So do not fear, for I am with you.’”

Titled “From Within,” her piece features a rhythmic heartbeat throughout the dance which powers her and the rest of her dancers.

Since beginning their work on the routine, Lefebvre has encouraged her dancers to feel what the piece means to them and apply it to their movements.

“I’m pushing my dancers to really internalize the dance and to feel their hearts tugging for them to dance and to feel what they want to feel in this dance,” Lefebvre said.

As abstract art form portraying meaning through movement, audience members can expect to find at least one thing to connect with when they see the show.

“One of my teachers who was a modern dance choreographer and artist wrote some advice to a new dance audience,” Cohenour said. “He said to come with an open mind, suspend judgment and engage the senses.”

Lefebvre agreed and said, “Just keep an open mind because people have put a lot of thought and a lot of time into their work.”

Dancescape provides a creative outlet for its choreographers, dancers and audience members alike.

“It’s really made me find my voice in school, church and even the dance community,” Lefebvre said. “I feel like I have a greater sense of self.”

Tickets are $12 for the public and $6 for students, and are available online or by calling the Winona State University box office.

Cohenour encourages audience members to come to the theatre without searching for anything in particular. With such a wide variety of talent and style, Dancescape can provide something unique for everybody.