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From the Expert: Looking at University Dance Recitals Part II

Blogger Jennifer Pandelidis revisits Queens University and gets to know the choreographers of Queen's Dance Club. 

While attending Queen’s Dance Club’s (QDC) year-end recital, I was able to sit down and chat with three of its finest choreographers: Laura Rae Chiasson, Daniel Krawchenko and Devon Ryan. They let me in on their creative process and personal methods of teaching, while shedding some light on childhood recitals versus university ones.

Laura Rae is a second year French major at Queen’s University and has been dancing for over 12 years now. She was trained at a competitive studio in contemporary and later began taking hip hop, which is now what she teaches at QDC. For Laura Rae the intensity of the competitive world didn’t foster an inclusive type feeling; luckily she was able to find a non-judgmental environment at QDC.

Watching Laura Rae on stage it became obvious that this inclusive nature that she thrived for has allowed her to really engage with her audience when performing. This performance method is exactly how she hopes to inspire her students.

“I am a big believer in real emotion on stage. That’s what interesting to watch. I want my dancers to relate to the music and to the dance so that the emotion is real. Sometimes a teacher will pick a song for a lyrical routine for 13 year olds that is about deep love, well they haven’t gone through that, so they can’t relate that emotion on stage. Because we are choreographing for people our age, I want them to be able to relate to the pieces and show that on stage,” she told me about her teaching method.

Laura Rae seeks inspiration from Youtube videos and her friends in order to create her dances. But what she hopes most is that she can inspire her dancers to dance for themselves and to strive to be the best dancer they can be.

Then there was Daniel, who has more of a fly by the seat of his pants type teaching method. This was Daniel’s first year dancing and teaching in QDC despite the fact that he had danced for over 10 years prior to coming to university. Daniel, a third year Political Science major says that his students’ movements inspire him.

While in his final year of high school, Daniel feared (as many dancers do) that this was the end of dancing career as he knew it and that he would have to hang up his old jazz shoes once he headed off to university. Luckily for Daniel he was able to discover QDC and has felt lucky that he has been able to take on choreographing type role. For Daniel this has given him confidence to know that he will continue to dance for the rest of his life.

Although, all three clearly demonstrated their passion for dance and their love of teaching, for me, it was Devon who stood out from his peers as having a unique perspective on choreography and on dance itself.

A third-year Structural Engineering student, Devon clearly views dance with the attention to detail and precision typical of most engineering students, but while still attaching deep emotion and personal issues to his dances. Not having started ballet until late his teens, Devon was trained in a strict studio environment and says that he didn’t truly enjoy performing until coming to QDC. He has also been able to branch out and develop his own unique sense of style at Queen’s and brings it into the studio when he teaches an advanced contemporary class.

Having this late start in dance, however, somewhat haunts Devon as he questions where could he be now, had he started at a younger age. His solution? To value his time at QDC and his ability to be creative, take risks and experiment with his choreography-in case he ever chooses to pursue dance professionally.

While talking to Devon, he reminded me that dance isn’t reserved for the artsy students, but that dance is for everyone, at any age and of any background.

Of course, I had to know from each choreographer, ‘what makes them want to dance?’

Devon might have given me the most unique answer I have heard to date: “For me, I find the human figure to be so inspirational. The fact that the human form doesn’t change, but you can combine it with limitless possibilities in order to create something purely aesthetic. And the fact that dance has been around for so long, but that anyone can do something different that has never been done before and to create different emotions.”

I want to thank Laura Rae, Daniel and Devon for taking time to sit down with me between their shows and chat about dance! Thanks again to QDC for all their help and for more information please check out their website at Queensdanceclub.com. Stayed tuned my post next month as I take a look out West at a young studio owner.
Posted: May 15, 2013 By Jackielou Perez | with 0 Comments

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