Eclectic dances give ‘something different’



by Hope Smith

A crew of students-turned choreographers will mesh salsa, swing, ballet, jazz and belly dancing together Saturday night.

UK Dance Ensemble will hold its annual Fall Concert this weekend at the Singletary Center.  Dance Ensemble publicist and officer Audra Flanagan said there’s something for everyone in the 14 dances that will be performed.

“We always try to throw in something different,” Flanagan said. “People seem to be most surprised by the cultural dances … they’re not always expected.”

Dance Ensemble is a student-run organization striving to challenge and further individuals in the areas of dance and performance, Flanagan said, and a guest choreographer is brought in every year to help students try something new. The guest choreographs one piece, but the  other dances are almost entirely the work of student choreographers, and they take weeks to perfect.

“This year we have a visiting choreographer from Louisville who has been giving the dancers more experience on a professional level,” Flanagan said. “It’s always good for your own work to collaborate with people from a higher level.”

The organization holds auditions to determine who would best represent the ensemble throughout the year, and Flanagan said more members were accepted than usual this year because there was “a lot of really great talent.”

“It’s all in how you move and how you pick up movement,” Flanagan said.

As soon as auditions are over and the new members have been selected, the group wastes no time beginning to work on pieces for upcoming performances. Throughout the year, Dance Ensemble travels to perform at conferences, festivals, schools and museums. The group also hosts workshops and presents lectures at local Kentucky schools.

In the past, the annual spring and fall concerts have included a wide range of dance pieces, from serious and reflective to jazzy and cheerful.  The student choreographers try to offer variety in every piece, and they have almost “full artistic freedom,” Flanagan said. Choreographers blend styles from all time periods and cultures with music they hand-select to entertain and impress the crowd.

Flanagan, who is currently involved in Dance Ensemble for her sixth semester and will perform her fourth personally choreographed piece this weekend, joined the group because she wanted to grow as a dancer.

“It really helped me, because I’m not from an area of great dance opportunity,” Flanagan said. “Now I love Dance Ensemble. It’s my life here at UK.”