For Noah Short, dancing in front of more than 50 trained and toned female collegiate peers, surrounded by 270 degrees of shiny mirrors displaying each and every step, and being judged on those very moves, is no big thing.
“I’ve been in musicals all through high school and I’ve played drums in front of huge crowds before,” Winona State University freshman Short, 18, said. “I’m pretty laid back—I’m not too worried.”
Students and community members perform a portion of Gretchen Cohenour's piece during the 2010 Dancescape Auditions on the WSU campus Sept. 2. Each of the faculty and student choregraphers were given 15 minutes to teach participants a small part of their dances or to test the auditionees on specific skills needed for their particular pieces. (Kate Carlson)
Short was the lone male dancer to test his skills at the two-day 2010 Dancescape auditions which brought close to 100 interested participants to the Memorial Hall dance studio on the WSU campus in early September. The 2010 season will celebrate Dancescape’s 20th anniversary, and each year, auditions are held to pair the best dancers with faculty, guest star and student choreographers.
Students began filing into the studio Sept. 2 wearing sweats, jeans, coats and jackets, but soon, all was stripped away and the room was transformed into a scene from “Fame.” White felt squares with bold numbers written in black Sharpie marker sat in piles at the front table and, after each participant filled out an information sheet with class schedules, former dance experience and contact information, the numbers were pinned to the front of every applicant. Female dancers pulled their long hair into tight ponytails while stretching limber arms and legs—many busily chatting with friends and others unable to hide their nerves.
Dancers stretch from their toes to their fingertips Sept. 2 during the 2010 Dancescape Auditions on the WSU campus. “It’s always exciting,” Heidi Delaney, a WSU senior, 26, said. “It’s always nice to see new faces and to see how new dancers move.” (Kate Carlson)
Heidi Delaney could not help but smile as she took a brief glance around the steadily growing crowd.
“It’s always exciting,” Delaney, a WSU senior, 26, said. “It’s always nice to see new faces and to see how new dancers move.”
Delaney has been a participant in Dancescape since she was a high school student in Winona. Acting as a student choreographer in 2005, Delaney decided to take the reins again this year and create a piece for the 2010 show. Delaney has had much audition experience and appreciates the uniqueness of the process at WSU.
Participants warm up for the first half hour, and then each of the choreographers are given 15 minutes to teach the interested dancers a portion of their pieces’ dance or to test them on certain skills needed for their particular dance. Choreographers write down numbers of their favorite dancers and then meet as a group to discuss how many pieces and which ones each of the best participants should be placed in.
Interested participants warm up before the start of the 2010 Dancescape Auditions on Sept. 2 in the Memorial Hall Dance Studio on the Winona State University campus. Close to 100 students and community members turned out for the two-day audition for a spot on one of the many dances for the Feb. 11-13 event. (Kate Carlson)
“I think it forces you to stay really focused when each of the choreographers are asking different things of you,” Delaney said. “It’s very structured which is a good thing.”
The finalized list was posted just one day after the second audition, letting the dancers know when the practices for each of the pieces would be, most running once per week, and leading up to the Feb. 11-13 show dates.
Freshman hopeful Connie Graves, 18, attended both days of the audition process and enjoyed the hours of critique.
“I’ve never done as many auditions at once before, but it was really fun,” she said.
Student choreographers take note of promising dancers during the 2010 Dancescape Auditions on the Winona State University campus Sept. 2. Each of the participants received a number written on a square of white felt that they pinned to their chests, making remembering each dancer easier for the choreographers. (Kate Carlson)
Graves may have had a leg-up on the competition though, having attended the St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Arts in dance during her junior and senior year of high school.
No matter how many or how few dances Graves may get the go-ahead on, she plans to look back on the audition process as a learning experience.
“I just look at it like a good chance to dance and to take everything you can away from it,” she said.