‘Shaping Space’ dance recital unites professionals, students

Rebecca Watters

Dance students are finishing up preparations for the Department of Theatre and Dance’s first recital of the semester.

Shaping Space,” an annual dance recital that brings professionals to campus to work with student performers, will run Friday through Sunday.

Director Susie Thiel, an assistant professor in the College of Fine Arts, and her dance students have prepared five pieces to perform in the recital. In addition to a piece choreographed by Thiel, students will also perform pieces by guest choreographers Missy Lay Zimmer and Andrew Hubbard, artistic directors of Exhale Dance Tribe; Stephanie Harris, UK dance instructor; and Laurie Fields, dance instructor at the School for the Creative and Performing Arts.

“Every year we bring in guest artists. This year, it’s a local company from Cincinnati,” Thiel said. “I really wanted to bring in a company that was close by to foster a relationship with them and encourage a community atmosphere.”

The opportunity to work with guest artists is an important component to the recital, as it provides students the chance to improve their skills and work with professionals in the field.

“Our students get to work with professional choreographers where they can learn style, technique, movement and intent,” Thiel said. “These choreographers work in a collaborative manner, so the students get to be a part of the creative process.”

For students, “Shaping Space” is a chance to express themselves creatively. Spanish and biology senior Noell Conley said dance is important in more ways than one.

“I enjoy the diversity that dance brings to my life. As a science major, it provides me with a way of thinking that differs from the often cut-and-dry, singular method that I experience in my typical biology courses,” Conley said. “It strengthens my problem-solving and critical thinking skills while providing me with great stress relief and expression during my day.”

The rehearsal process for each of the five pieces was different and, according to Thiel, the contemporary dance style of “Shaping Space” allows for the choreography and story to be unique in each performance.