Hamline News

May 21, 2012

Hamline Dance Ensemble to Perform on National Stage

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This May, the Hamline University Dance Ensemble will head to Washington, D.C. to perform at the Kennedy Center. The ensemble was selected as one of only 30 groups to perform at the National College Dance Festival hosted by the American College Dance Festival Association. During the festival, Hamline artists will perform in two shows on Saturday, May 26.

“What’s really cool is that we are competing with large schools with dedicated dance departments,” Kaori Kenmotsu, a Hamline senior lecturer and artistic director for Hamline Dance Ensemble, said. “Many of our students in the group are actors with limited or no previous dance experience.”

The students will perform “Elephant in the Room,” which was choreographed by guest artist Crystal Runk. The piece is about a dysfunctional family that is forced to sit together at the table. The members of the ensemble inspired Runk’s choreography.

“The piece is very organic and character driven,” Kenmotsu said. “‘Elephant in the Room’ also is intensely physical and includes people flipping over chairs. I think audiences will be surprised by the humor in it.”

Despite the Hamline’s size, the students’ talents are well-matched with the other larger schools that will also perform at the Kennedy Center such as Stanford University, the Boston Conservatory, and the University of Minnesota.

“To be selected to perform in the National Festival is a real recognition of the talent and work of the dancers here at Hamline,” Theatre Department Chair Bill Wallace said.

Hamline’s dance program is housed in the Theatre Department. That enables any interested and talented student from across the university to participate, and opens up other opportunities behind the scenes.

 “We have worked hard to fuse the dance program and Theatre Department,” Kenmotsu said. “For many of our technical students—such as lighting designers and costumers—being able to work on both theatre and dance projects makes them more well-rounded.”

According to Kenmotsu, the Hamline students involved in the ensemble are curious, interested, and willing to put themselves out there.

“Many of the students do not have any dance experience, but they do have innate sense of movement,” Kenmotsu said.

Those interested in seeing the Hamline Dance Ensemble before they leave for Washington can catch their spring performance entitled ‘Go’ on May 3, 4, and 5. For more information, visit the Anne Simley Theatre Box Office webpage.