The Dance Theatre of Santa Fe presents three performances of the annual student-choreographed, student-produced program, “Room to Dance,” at 7:30 p.m. Wed.-Thurs., Oct. 28-29, 2015, with a matinee at 2 p.m. on Wed., Oct. 28. All performances will be held in the Fine Arts Hall at the Northwest Campus of Santa Fe College, 3000 NW 83 Street, Gainesville.
Tickets are $15 main floor and $12 balcony for adults; $9 for seniors, children and University of Florida students; and free for Santa Fe College faculty, staff and students with college identification cards. For ticket information, call the Box Office at 352-395-4181 or visit the Fine Arts ticket website at:
Long a staple of the college’s summer performing arts schedule, “Room to Dance” moves to fall term this year with a program of dances in different styles that are created by students at the beginning of their careers. “Room to Dance” is an audience favorite for its high-energy performances that reflect the enthusiasm and skills of the young dancers and choreographers.
“By shifting to fall term, we give our students more time to incubate their ideas without worrying so much about final exams and the production process,” explained Sarah Harkness-Sebastian, who co-directs Dance Theatre of Santa Fe (DTSF) with Melissa Brenner. “The schedule change gives students a clearer focus and gives faculty members more time to mentor them.”
The production is a collaborative process. As they create their dances, the students can work with any of the Dance Program faculty, with available guest artists, and even with the visual arts staff of the Santa Fe Gallery to get inspiration and learn how to translate their ideas into movement.
The thread that weaves all elements of “Room to Dance” together is an emphasis on the creative process. Students do everything from developing a concept for their dances to auditioning and casting the dancers, choreographing and rehearsing the pieces, deciding on music and costumes and working with lighting designer Elizabeth Reynolds and the Fine Arts Hall stage crew. Students must then present their dances to a committee of faculty members, who decide which dances will be included in the final program.
The energy of the DTSF students was infectious as they described the inspirations for their dances.
Charlotte Fisher is creating two dances, one a contemporary modern piece with an all-woman cast. Inspired by her reading of poetry, she said the dance has “a strong emotional background with more than one kind of love story.”
Tyrrel Chandler-Springer is choreographing a hip-hop piece and a solo, “pushing myself into overdrive and through new barriers. I’ve always loved dance and I want to use it to change history!” he exclaimed.
Christina Karafa is working on two dances. One of them is a trio about addiction, “whether it’s to people, food, or drugs—anything. It’s inspiring to see what we can do apart and what we can do together as dancers.”
Emma Wedemeyer is involved in the creation of three different dances. “One is a duet with my friend Rebecca Walker; it’s about people who come from two different tribes or places. They’re competitive but as they work through their conflict, they realize they’re similar, too.”
“One choreographer has a different process for each work,” explained Harkness-Sebastian, “and different choreographers have different processes. Part of our job as teachers is to help our students understand that every process is different and every process is valid. We make sure they have a healthy, safe atmosphere in which to create, because having that experience now helps them nurture their creativity when they move into more competitive environments. We work to strike a balance between creating a nurturing environment and infusing the students with a realistic, professional work ethic.”
“There is so much support here!” Fisher exclaimed, ”and the respect is uplifting.” The other students echoed her thoughts. “It’s unbelievable,” Chandler-Springer said. “There’s no competitiveness,” Karafa chimed in. “Everyone is supportive and helpful,” added Wedemeyer, “and the people we dance with have bonded so much that we’re together almost 24 hours a day!”
“Room to Dance” is sponsored in part by the SF College Fine Arts Department and the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture and Visit Gainesville, a Tourist Development Tax Grant from the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners in conjunction with the Alachua County Tourist Development Council. The creative team of faculty members who produce the dance performances includes Brenner, Harkness-Sebastian, and Tari Kendall, co-founder (with Alora Haynes) of DTSF.
For more information about “Room to Dance,” call Dance Professor Sarah Harkness-Sebastian at 352-395-5674.
For more information about the SF College Fine Arts Department or the Fine Arts Hall, call Fine Arts Department Chairperson Alora Haynes at 352-395-5296.
All photos of the dancers are by Aaron Daye/Santa Fe College. Click on the photos for a larger view.