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Wichita Contemporary Dance Theatre dances to open outlook, push passion

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The Sunflower

The Sunflower

The Sunflower

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Contemporary dance is a style of expressive dance that combines elements of several dance genres, including modern, jazz, lyrical and classical ballet. Contemporary dancers’ goal is to connect the mind and the body through fluid movements.

Wichita State’s Wichita Contemporary Dance Theatre (WCDT) embodied this connection during its annual fall concert Friday and Saturday by performing contemporary dance in the Miller Concert Hall in the Duerksen Fine Arts Center.

“I hope the audience not only enjoys the show but really feels the passion we have for it,” dancer Alyssa Gaede said. “It’s one thing to watch a dance, but it’s an entirely different feeling when you actually experience it and really feel the energy that a dancer is giving.”

The company has been accepted on the Kansas Arts Commission touring roster. WCDT tours regionally and nationally.

Auditions for the concert were held in August. Performers had hour and a half rehearsals two to three times a week, until last week, where rehearsals lasted nearly seven hours.

“I think what I enjoyed the most is getting to perform,” Gaede said.  “After months of hard work, dedication, lack of sleep and a ton of sweat, it feels great to get on stage and finally show the finished product.”

Director Nicholas Johnson wanted to enhance the audience’s views about humanity and audience members’ overall worldview.

“It is our hope that [the audience members] walk out of the theater a changed person, enhanced in ways they did not expect,” Johnson said. “Whether there is delight in your response or introspection, hopefully your worldview is altered for the better. We believe that arts represent what is best in humanity.”

The concert’s first act consisted of three performances: the debut of “The Good Wife,” choreographed by Regina Klenjoski, the premiere of “Lost Threads and Learned Distractions: Draft #1,” choreographed by Cheyla Clawson Chandler, and “Dinner Party,” choreographed by Sabrina Vasquez.

The second act was a collaboration, a multidisciplinary project, said to be “a marriage between live music, dance, and multimedia design on a film.” Mark Foley performed on stage while the dancers danced to his own original composition in “Bass Instinct.” “Bass Instinct” had eight smaller dances weaved into the one main act.

“The Dance Program is committed to both pushing boundaries and invention,” Johnson said. “All choreography is original. Every dance faculty and a guest choreographer have combined their creative efforts to bring you their latest inspiration.”

The contemporary dance style left an open-ended thought of what the dances meant to the audience. Two different audience members could have two different outlooks of what the dance meant.

“My favorite piece was “The Good Wife” because I thought it was interesting,” freshman Caleb Graham. “I have only seen ballets, so to see a modern/jazz performance was really nice. It was interesting how my way of seeing the pieces is going to be different than yours.”

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