Apr 252007
Authors: Amanda Hudick

Participants include three CSU seniors and over 30 dancers, musicians, designers and technicians all pooling their knowledge together to make one single masterpiece – the “Mind, Body & Soul” Senior Dance Showcase.

“We prepare for this showcase for four years,” said Nikki Friedin, senior dance major.

With an average of 300 attendants for two performance nights, the show is a demonstration of the hard work and strong dedication to fulfill the dreams of three seniors.

Nikki Friedin, Heidi Leighton and Lee Sowada show off their talents in choreography, performance and production in this exciting event.

“Dance is so much a part of who I am,” said Lee Sowada, senior dance and speech communication major.

Each student performs two dance pieces – a solo and a group dance, both of which they have choreographed and produced themselves.

“It’s a great way to show off to our friends and family how much we love to dance and how hard we have worked throughout the years,” Friedin said.

Though the main cluster of work is done in the semester of the showcase, the students can do preliminary work beforehand.

“They must produce, direct, choreograph, perform, publicize, design costumes, props, sets, etc., develop of functional budget, etc., etc.,” said Jane Slusarski-Harris who is the director of the Division of Dance and Theatre.

The only assistance the seniors get is to work with a faculty adviser, and they do the majority of work by themselves.

The solos are approximately five minutes long, while the group pieces tend to be about 12 minutes in length.

“Each section offers different music and unique movement,” Sowada said.

Friedin began dancing at age three in Arvada and “doesn’t know life without (dancing).” Friedin has partaken in other senior concerts during her time at CSU.

Friedin is the first of the three seniors to complete her piece, which is titled, “Body Fusion,” and “conveys the strength, flexibility, and endurance to demonstrate that dance is the true test of the human body,” said Jeanna Nixon, director of marketing and publicity for the School of Arts.

Friedin’s group piece includes 11 dancers, all of whom will “utilize every muscle in our bodies to express ourselves and that is how we celebrate the love of our craft – movement,” she said.

Her solo piece is called “Living the Passion,” which shows her love of dance from her childhood up until now, as she is starting her career in dance. Friedin is also participating in both Leighton’s and Sowada’s group pieces.

While her solo piece is a time for her to have fun and do what she does best, her group piece took much more work.

“I am a dancer that likes to be told what to do with my body and be given the choreography,” she said. “I had to choreograph the entire thing by myself on really talented dancers, and it turned out amazing!”

Leighton also began dancing at the ripe age of three. She is expected to graduate this May with a bachelor’s degree in art and a concentration in dance, as stated in a press release covering the event. She plans to start a family, keep dancing, and “live life to its fullest potential” after graduation.

Leighton choreographed a group piece called “Windows of the Mind,” and her solo is “Repositioning Time,” which is “pure movement for movement’s sake,” according to the press release.

The group work “takes audiences on a journey through movement of the thought processes of hope, fear and desire,” Nixon said.

“I am only truly alive when I am dancing; the freedom in the movement is what keeps me passionate,” Leighton said.

Sowada has been dancing since age four and plans to acquire an advanced degree in physical therapy after she graduates. She was born in Gillette, Wyo., and transferred to CSU her junior year. She will receive two degrees in dance and speech and communication and wants to go on to perform, teach and choreograph.

Sowada, who is also performing in Leighton’s and Friedin’s group pieces, identified her solo as “From Slumber I Wake,” – an illustration of her eagerness for the future. Her group piece is termed “Permission to Speak,” which focuses on “the dancer’s relationship with other dancers, music, space and the audience,” Nixon said.

“This (solo) is about my personal effort to escape mediocrity,” Sowada said.

Her favorite thing about her group piece is the “dynamic changes that occur.”

Only the three seniors in the capstone course are required to participate, though all students are welcome to join in the event and are encouraged to audition.

Auditions are held at the beginning of each semester, and about 60 to 70 percent of students who try out make the cut.

The seniors who are producing the show hold the auditions and are the judges for who makes it and who doesn’t.

Rehearsals are held throughout the semester until the final performances. Rehearsal for Sowada’s group was four hours a week for three months.

“The choreographers and dancers put in so much work and time for this show and it’s over in two nights,” Friedin said.

There are no awards or winners and the senior capstone event is exclusively for dance majors in the capstone class. There is a Senior Dance Showcase each semester, and it is just one of several productions put on by the CSU Dance Division, all presented in a celebration of Dance Month.

Dance Month is a new event this year at CSU, designed to “highlight the CSU Dance Division’s three different productions (Studio Night, Spring Dance Concert, and Senior Dance Showcase) in April,” Nixon said.

Fish restaurant, a sponsor of Dance Month, will be offering a bargain for 10 percent off your meal with the presentation of a Dance Month ticket stub for the full month of April.

Other sponsors for “Mind, Body & Soul” include Pilates Fitness Studio, Prima Bodywear, Yacovetta Jewelers and Point Photo Productions.

“It’s time to do the thing we love the most – perform,” Friedin said.

Staff writer Amanda Hudick can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

Breakout Box:

Performances are Thursday, April 26, and Friday, April 27, beginning at 8 p.m. in the Lory Student Center Theatre.

Tickets are $4 for students and $8 for non-students, plus a small Campus Box Office fee.

Tickets available in advance at www.csutix.com or by calling 491-4TIX.

They will also be available beginning at 7 p.m. on the night of the performances at the Campus Box Office in the Lory Student Center.

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