Alegria Contemporary Ballet Company was formed this year, but it has grown to rival the established dance troupes on campus. Dancers are known as the athletes of the gods, so read on to discover more about the process behind creating a dance showcase. It’s tiring and grueling, but rewarding at once.
Erica Ng for Her Campus McGill (HC McGill): First of all, what can people expect from Alegria’s first showcase as McGill’s premier contemporary ballet troupe, and how many dance pieces will they be able to see?
Karen Chen and Zoe Goldstein (KC and ZG): For our very first showcase, the audience can expect pieces that are very diverse, ranging from classical ballet to contemporary to acro. There are unconventional elements in the show as well, including a piece with spoken word. There are twenty dances in the show, and each piece showcases each dancer’s unique abilities in addition to embodying our company’s strength as a whole. Our choreography is innovative and we have tried to stretch the limits of conventional contemporary dance.
HC McGill: What was it like to choreograph these different pieces for all these people? What was the process like and how many people were involved in it?
KC and ZG: It was an amazing creative process amongst all of us. Each dancer in the company has their own unique style, so everyone has contributed their own form of artistic value in the piece. Most had never choreographed before, so it was a rewarding challenge and a great opportunity. Each member has a piece she has choreographed, and all the members are in five to eight pieces.
HC McGill: What was your inspiration behind the pieces you choreographed? Are there any specific pieces that you are most looking forward to perform?
KC: For all the pieces I choreograph, my inspiration comes from the lyrics of the music. I am constantly inspired by lyrics and the feelings they are able to elicit. One of three is about unconditional love, and another is a more personal piece about coming of age. In the show, I am most looking forward to perform the piece which is choreographed to spoken word instead of music, which I think adds a unique aspect to the show.
ZG: I used to compete in gymnastics, and during one competition, I had the opportunity of watching a team perform a beautiful piece that incorporated balletic elements in an unusual way. This inspired my choreography in all my pieces, where I incorporate movements reminiscent of ballet, but twist them to a slightly contemporary element. The piece I am most looking forward to perform is our group finale, because it is with all the dancers in the company. I love the sense of unity it provides, and how special it is to work on a piece with the entire company.
HC McGill: Some people underestimate the amount of hard work and practice that is required for dancers, particularly ones who are also fulltime students. How did you guys schedule practices and for how many hours each week, particularly for this showcase?
KC and ZG: For sure! We scheduled all the practices before the start of the winter semester. The way we organized rehearsals was by splitting the time from January to March into four sections: A, B, C, and D. Each section had four choreographers, and this was split into two blocks. Each choreographer had two weeks to teach and complete their piece. We practice for six hours a week, and now, even up to twenty hours!
HC McGill: What does dance mean to you and what do you hope people will get out of Alegria’s performance? Especially for those who have never attended a dance showcase before?
KC and ZG: For us, dance is an artistic outlet that conveys emotions inexpressible with words. We hope the audience will feel the passion and love of dance that each member of our company has, and of course, the energy and excitement we feel towards the show. We want the audience to have fun and be able to engage and connect with our dancers! For those who have never attended a dance showcase before, we also hope this introduces them to an artistic outlet that they too can explore.
Images Obtained From: Alegria Contemporary Ballet Company