Three evenings of motion and music take place this week at Weber State University.
Orchesis Dance Theatre, the school’s student dance company, will present the program “Inter Action” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 14-16, in the Browning Center at Weber State University, 3848 Harrison Blvd.
Tickets are $8.25 to $13.
The students at WSU present two dance concerts a year — one in the fall, and one in the spring, according to Erik Stern, a WSU professor and director of the dance program at the school.
A centerpiece of this fall’s concert will be “Take Us As We Are,” a work by Joseph Blake, an assistant professor of dance at the university. The piece will be the new faculty member’s choreographic debut at WSU.
“We’re very excited to have him,” Stern said of Blake. “He brings a lot of experience. Utah is an extraordinary dance state, and he toured for 10 years with Ririe-Woodbury (Dance Company in Salt Lake City).”
“Take Us As We Are” features 12 female dance students in a thought-provoking work that is a sort of meditation on women’s art and their experiences, according to Stern. It’s part of a year-long project Blake is working on that involves the dance program, the WSU Women’s Center on campus, and the YCC in Ogden.
“It’s about performance, but it’s also about harnessing the power of dance in a community setting,” Stern said. “It’s the using of the art form as a forum for non-dancers and dancers. … When you get people from different places together, interesting things happen.”
Stern said Blake will continue this community dance project with another performance in the spring.
In addition to Blake’s roughly 20-minute piece, “Inter Action” will also feature five student-choreographed works.
“I’m really proud of them,” Stern said of the student-produced dances. “They all have their own point of view, which doesn’t always happen — they’re learning, and so sometimes there’s a little too much mimicking going on.”
The evening will also include Stern performing a tap-jazz trumpet duet with Dan Jonas, the assistant director of bands at WSU.
Stern admits that a dance concert can be a hard sell for a society that traditionally doesn’t place a lot of value on this sort of art form.
“Not only are we not taught to dance,” Stern says, “we’re taught not to dance.”
Too often, potential audience members think they won’t “get” dance. But Stern says the important thing isn’t always deriving some sort of meaning out of movement.
“What’s interesting is a 5-year-old won’t have a problem with it,” Stern said of dance concerts. “Because a 5-year-old understands that motion is exciting, and that it can catch your eye.”
Not that Stern is saying dance can’t be interpreted. But he says one of the levels it works on is a “pre-linguistic thing.”
“Sometimes there are things being said, and sometimes not,” Stern explained. “People have to realize that dance isn’t always about finding out what the answer is. It’s about experiencing motion and what you feel. I think people forget that you’re allowed to just enjoy the motion.
“People, relax!” Stern concludes. “There’s not going to be a multiple-choice test at the end of the evening.”