Celebrating the new University Center for the Arts, Los Angeles-based Diavolo Dance Theatre, along with 15 CSU students, has taught dance classes over the last week, as well as choreographed a dance for this weekend’s opening ceremonies. Diavolo Dance Theatre traveled to Colorado for the opening of the UCA and to continue their education-based trainings.
“Diavolo goes into different schools and organizations in LA and performs, teaching them Diavolo style and technique,” said CSU alumna Erica Jurgens-Bow. “I don’t believe Diavolo’s ever done this before, where students perform with them. They’ve only been background, or set pieces.”
The first class, held Wednesday Oct. 8, was also an audition for the Friday night performances. The people who attended were able to audition for the coveted places in the Diavolo piece, and 15 of the 30 were picked.
“They’re committed to do the performance, so they have to attend the 10 days of rehearsal, the 3 to 4 p.m. open classes, along with a 4 to 8 p.m. rehearsal,” Jurgens-Bow said. “We get to set andactual Diavolo piece with them, perform with them, and I feel really lucky to be able to do that.”
Each student is in the dance program, and many have realized that the week is much more intense then they previously thought.
“I was a little more prepared for the intensity than others because I had done a workshop with Diavolo before,” said Chantel Doyon, a dancer in the program. “It’s still hard, and it really does require more upper body strength than I thought.”
Artistic director Jacques Heim opened Diavolo, hoping to improve dance, and the way dance groups worked together.
“When we work with them we don’t treat them as students,” Heim said. “They’re one step away from being a professional; when you’re a professional you’re still learning, still making mistakes, still being lazy. They’re the same as professionals.” The work is not choreographed, but a conglomeration of artistic ideas.
“I do not like the word choreographer, that’s not what I aim to do,” Heim said.”The dancers have to take charge of their own movement, we have discussions. It’s like a community, it’s much more exciting for me, and the dancers have to create, collaborate and educate.”
The shows on Friday and Saturday will consist of five pieces, four from Diavolo Dance Theatre themselves and the fifth being the CSU generated one.
“I’m really excited about it all,” said Mallory Buffer, a dancer in the program. “I danced with Erica before, and to see her back, along with this amazing group, it’s a great experience and opportunity for us.” The center will host Diavolo in the newly renovated Dance Theater.
“To be able to have this venue is fantastic,” Heim said. “I began dancing in a gymnasium, so I’m very excited. On top of that, having Erica be from here, it’s very special to us because we are a family structure.”
Staff writer Kelly Bleck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.