An evening of dance and art: Students perform at Christian Petersen Art Museum


Mikayla Alt

Orchesis I and the dance choreography class performed a series of dances inside the Christian Petersen Art Museum Thursday.

In a medium-sized room filled with various types of art stood several dancers. They danced around art pieces without shoes and in black clothes, trying to capture their expressions through motion.

Orchesis I and the dance choreography class joined together to create a unique clash of dance and art from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.Thursday at the Christian Petersen Art Museum.

Orchesis I is a student organization specializing in professional dance training aspects. The club performed excerpts from their Barjche show which will be hosted in February.

The students created dances based on the art exhibit currently displayed in the Christian Petersen Art Museum. The exhibit, titled “Double Take: Insights on Figural Expression,” features several stylized figures emphasizing the themes of transformation, power and self-reflection.

To achieve these themes, pieces of the exhibit strip the human body down to its essential parts to encourage viewers to think about diverse backgrounds and break through social barriers.

Specific pieces of the exhibit include New Yorker cartoons and ancient Egyptian sculptures.

The event’s goal was to give students the ability to innovatively connect the different arts into a single, fluid dance.

Several different dances occurred, and most of them were led by student choreographers.

One of the dances was improvised on the spot. Cynthia Adams, associate teaching professor in the kinesiology department, asked the audience to look around the room at the art and to find a piece they wished the students to dance to.

“They each have their own inspiration, and then I gave them the task [to choreograph their dances],” Adams said.

Orchesis I and the dance choreography class performed a series of dances inside the Christian Petersen Art Museum Thursday. (Mikayla Alt)

The audience’s selected art piece featured a skeleton frozen in the middle of dancing. The pink dress she wore flowed around her and acted as the floor and was considered “wavy and off-center” by the audience.

Using this piece, the students created a dance on the spot with four words in mind: wavy, off-center, facial contortions and cultural.

“It’s all interpretive, and they’re dancing to their interpretation,” Ron Gardener, an audience member, said.

Gardener receives emails from the museum and enjoys attending the events hosted within it.

The museum venue was chosen for the performance because it presented an opportunity for students to adapt to a site-specific environment.

The museum is not an open dance hall, which challenged the student choreographers to experiment and try different things.

“[Dancing is] a great way to express yourself throughout a different form of communication,” said Ruth Marth, a junior majoring in kinesiology and health with a minor in dance. “It’s my outlet of life.”

Marth is one of the student choreographers who helped lead some of the Orchesis I students in a couple of the dances.

The majority of students in the choreography class, Orchesis I and Orchesis II clubs do not major in dance. The performers’ majors ranged from psychology and chemistry to elementary education and design.

Anyone with a passion for dancing can join one of the dance clubs. Orchesis I and II are audition-based clubs, but anyone is allowed to try out.

In the past, the clubs used to have restrictions and would only allow dance majors to join.

Now, there are many different types of dance classes for anyone interested in dancing. Classes available to students include modern dance, ballet, ballroom and jazz.

A list of available dance classes can be found on the ISU catalog website, and additional information on Orchesis I and Orchesis II can be found on the student organizations’ website.