By Breanna Manley
The last weekend in February Northern Plains Dance will present the sixth annual Choreographers’ Showcase, a tradition of innovation and dance that brings together the community and artists. The 2012 performance is subtitled Going for Baroque and will feature live music performed by the Missouri Valley Chamber Orchestra and visual art by members of the Bismarck Downtown Artist Cooperative.
The tradition of Choreographers’ Showcase began in 2007, when a dancer approached the artistic staff with a project in mind. The idea progressed and gave an opportunity for others to showcase their talent and ideas, too.
“I think that they [the artistic staff] wanted to try something new the first year. They realized how fresh and interesting it was when dancers became the choreographers,” choreographer and performer Carly Schaub said. “I was actually an audience member the first year they did it and I remember going away thinking, ‘that was one of the best things I’ve ever see them do.’”
“It’s really important for the arts to work together; they are not separate,” Northern Plains Dance Director Hollis Mackintosh said. “Certainly as choreographers we are influenced by music. A lot of times, visual artists are influenced by what dancers do—they are all interrelated.”
Though Choreographers’ Showcase is in its sixth year, this year’s production features several firsts. This year, the Northern Plains Dance students have choreographed a piece and the Missouri Valley Chamber Orchestra will be providing live music for the entire production with the exception of one special guest performance.
“This is the first year we are directly involving a different dance organization,” Mackintosh said. “The Capital City Cloggers have been around for 30 plus years, so as a way to honor their contribution to dance in North Dakota, we are featuring them in this year’s performance.
The dancers rehearse for up to eight hours with an additional four to six hours of technique class each week. The stamina and ability must be maintained in order to keep up with the hour and a half show. Production for the show began in late September 2011 when choreographers from around the country came to work with the 14 students involved and to begin rehearsing their pieces. Choreographers this year include: David Gensheimer, Matthew Christensen, Jennifer McNamara, Thomas Shoemaker, Carly Schaub, Hollis Mackintosh and Capital City Clogger’s Patty Vollan.
“Working with the choreographers is great,” said Northern Plains Dance student Annie Fischer. “They challenge us. It’s nice to see a different view on dance and learn from the experience that they have.”
Going for Baroque consists of six short dance pieces set to a variety of Baroque era music and a one-act piece set to Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. “A lot of Baroque music, not a lot of people may even know it’s Baroque, but it is all extremely recognizable. It’s every jewelry commercial, ringtone— it’s just familiar,” Mackintosh said. Mackintosh worked closely with Missouri Valley Chamber Orchestra’s first violinist Laura Prokopyk in selecting the music. Ms. Prokopyk will be serving as conductor for the weekend of performances.
Local artist and Bismarck Downtown Artists Co-op member Austin Schmaltz has been contributing pieces of art to the annual showcase for the past three years. “I’m always looking to expand my art,” Schmaltz said. “I try to look for different kinds of arts, and working with Northern Plains Dance is a great way to do that. It’s fun to collaborate.
It is important to Northern Plains Dance to keep the arts cohesive and collaborating with other local talent is a main focus for the February show.
“I want them [the audience] to leave knowing that Bismarck’s art community is actually bigger and more vibrant than a lot of people think it is,” Mackintosh said. “It’s just still a little underground. These are people that most of the community knows. They are art teachers, tae kwon do teachers, the librarian—they have this other side of them, and I think it’s really important to know it is a big part of the community.”
General Admission tickets can be purchased at any Bismarck-Mandan Dan’s Supermarket. Reserved tickets may be purchased through Northern Plains Dance at 701-530-0986.
(Breanna Manley is a senior at Bismarck High School, where she is co-editor of the Bismarck Hi-Herald. She has studied dance at Northern Plains Dance for many years. Breanna plans to study dance at Butler University next fall.)