Two days before the Repertory Dance Theater performance on April 26, members of the company directed a series of master classes at the invitation of Ashley Hoopes, an adjunct dance instructor.
Hoopes danced with the company for three years before coming to teach dance at BYU-Idaho.
“I was really nervous about Sister Hoopes’ choreography class until today because I’ve never done it,” said Stacey Horton, a senior studying English. “This gro is an improv gro so it was cool for us to see what improv really is.”
Repertory Dance Theater is a professional gro based in Salt Lake City. The first master class was held Wednesday in the MC Ballroom.
“It was a contemporary class. There were a few younger girls there, too, but it was really fun,” said Kamrie McCandless, a senior studying dance. It wasn’t stressful at all because they told us, ‘Be crazy! Let loose! Have fun!’ It was really refreshing.”
Students participated in an activity designed to get them back to the basics of movement. Horton said the experience with the RDT company was a nice break from the traditional style of dance she is used to.
“The instructor asked us to look around the room and find all the shapes we could, then to trace it with our hands, with our right knee, and with our head,” Horton said. “He told us to put put them all together and make them all together and make a dance. It was amazing because sometimes you don’t want to have to think about the moves. It’s not sposed to look like anything.”
The students also got some exposure to new dance vocabulary.
“People sometimes can get stuck in their dancing, and we are so lucky to have that opportunity of having a professional company come and open our eyes a little bit,” McCandless said.
“The classes I had with them were really beautiful, and I feel like my vocabulary has been broadened because of it. I really enjoyed that splash of something new; it was very refreshing.”
The modern dance company also performed for kids from Rexburg elementary schools in the Kirkham Auditorium. The pieces featured dances about day-to-day activities including sports, such as baseball.
“It was really meant for kids. The company dancers broke down the steps to do it one step at a time so it was more understandable for the little kids,” Horton said. “Kids are really creative when they’re little because it’s easier for them to pretend while they dance and their movement is more innocent.”
McCandless said this experience with RDT has given her the incentive and motivation she needed in order to emphasize the importance of new moves as part of her personal dance routine.
“I love this company because they were all about new dance moves,” Horton said. “That’s what dance is. Modern is free dancing because you’re free, you’re in America.”
McCandless said that she most looked forward to seeing RDT perform the pieces from famous choreographers.
She also said it would be neat to watch the performance after building a personal connection with the dancers through the series of master classes during the week.
Both McCandless and Horton attended the RDT performance and said the dancers were even more impressive on the stage.