In preparation for graduation at Colorado State University, most students take a capstone course within their department, and as a CSU Dance major, a senior capstone course is required. This course consists of putting on a performance, demonstrating the choreography and production skills the dancers have learned during their studies at CSU.
The Senior Capstone Dance Concert features students Ashley Shute, Devon DeSpain, and Chloe Milton. The three seniors are set to take the stage on Friday, May 5 and Saturday, May 6. The performance both nights takes place at 7:30 p.m. in the University Dance Theatre, located within the University Center for the Arts.
The performance is a collaboration of ideas and feelings set to a Cirque du Solei theme, but with a twist of “Freak Show” style. Showcasing the senior’s choreography and dancing skills, the concert will have elements of ballet, modern, jazz, and contemporary. The performance consists of a personalized group and solo piece from each senior, but for the finale, the three seniors have an exciting surprise for the audience.
Something that has never been done before, the three seniors will end the show with a trio performance. They have spent almost every waking hour of the day rehearsing, learning, choreographing, and dancing. Having gone through the program together, the three chose to collaborate on a piece that shows all of their personalities.
“We decided that a trio would be a good idea because we’re really close and it’s kind of completely different because it’s more of our personalities and how we act around each other,” said Devon. “Like how we’re super crazy around each other all the time and we always do our weird dances [for] each other.”
The concert put on by Chloe, Ashley, and Devon is a senior capstone you will not want to miss. As the dancers bring you on an emotional journey ranging from happiness to sorrow, they have you feel the performance as an art of sensations. Come on down to the circus, you will not be disappointed by the Cirque du Trio.
Tickets for the performance are no charge for Full-fee paying CSU students, $8 for youth (under 18), and $18 for the public. Tickets are available at the University Center for the Arts (UCA) ticket office in the UCA lobby Monday through Friday, 3:30-5:30 p.m. and 60 minutes prior to performances, by phone at (970) 491-ARTS (2787), or online at www.CSUArtsTickets.com.
Senior Chloe Milton
Chloe Milton, a student from Colorado Springs, Colo. has been involved in the dance community since middle school, for as what may seem to her feels like forever. Although, she may be an outstanding dancer, her career did not originally start from there. As a young child, she was initially involved in gymnastics; dance did not find her until her best friend encouraged her to audition for the yearly dance performance in their town, A Christmas Carol. Since that performance, dance has stuck with her and has been a part of her life that has shaped Chloe into the person she is today.
Coming to CSU was an easy choice for Chloe, it was close to home to visit but far enough away to feel like somewhere new. It also “had the best dance program in the state, especially when it comes to technique and I really wanted to work on refining my technique and [become] a strong versatile dancer,” said Chloe.
In her final piece, Chloe hopes to inspire the audience by showcasing her work and skills she has developed during her studies at CSU through the art of dance. Chloe’s performance is about petty desires; demonstrating her emotions she has overcome through dance. Even though the central theme is about pettiness, the choreography is upbeat and filled with energy. The emotion shown through her performances demonstrates Chloe’s journey of becoming an independent individual and accomplishing goals she never thought possible. Overcoming the thoughts and opinions of others, this piece shows her accomplishments of concentrating and loving herself.
Keeping the Cirque du Solei theme, Chloe’s capstone consists of a large cast, but also utilizes smaller groups during the performance. The group and solo pieces put on by Chloe, show her versatility as a dancer and exhibits the different styles of dance she has learned at CSU.
Dance is something that can help define and shape a person, “it helps with memory, focus - everything. It’s physical activity, but it’s also an art, so it kind of doubles as both, which is really awesome,” said Chloe, “I think it’s important to keep [the arts] in schools because it keeps kids active and engaged.”
Senior Ashley Shute
Originally from Colorado Springs, Colo., Ashley Shute initially started her dancing career as a gymnast. The journey began when Ashley’s mom put her in a dance class; from there she began dance lessons and started competing in dance within the first year and hasn’t stopped since.
Her senior showcase piece expresses her story of applying to Colorado State University and declaring a dance major.
“For my solo, it’s actually about the story of me auditioning and trying to get into CSU as a school. I’m a transfer student and I had auditioned for the dance program twice before I was accepted,” said Ashley, “so, it’s actually kind of about the story of applying to the school and then finally getting in and eventually graduating.”
Coming from a competitive dance background, learning the artistic aspect of dance has been something Ashley has taken away from her studies and is incorporating into her capstone piece. Her final choreography project examines one’s view on self-image in relation to society’s view of perfection. Dancers are viewed as entertainment, therefore criticized on their looks, form and rhythm. Taking in the criticism, Ashley wants others to take away the message of, “you’re only as good as you feel.”
“You’re dancing to say something, and you’re dancing for a reason, not just because it looks pretty and I think that’s one of the most important things that I’ve learned, not only at CSU, but in my college career as a dance major,” said Ashley.
Ashley’s performances will make you stop and think before you judge the person next to you. Keeping the theme of Cirque du Solei, the inspiration derives from vintage freak shows to capture the audience’s attention on how we view ourselves and others.
“It’s so personal and it deals with concepts that [are] personal to me, as well as I think personal to a lot of the dancers,” said Ashley, “I think it makes it more intense and I think it will leave a greater impact on my dancer career than the previous choreography or performances that I’ve done.”
Senior Devon DeSpain
Dance Major Devon DeSpain, originally from Parker, Colo., has been dancing since he can remember. A self-taught hip hop artist from YouTube, Devon did not start dancing like a dance major until college. From there, he incorporated his hip hop skills and applied them in courses such as ballet and modern dance classes at CSU.
Beginning his college career as a computer science major, Devon started taking dance classes for fun. In his first Understanding Dance class at CSU, he realized his passion for dance after doing movement labs. He then auditioned for the dance department and after accepting, he then made dance his primary focus in his studies at CSU.
“Dance has definitely made me a lot more creative and it gave me kind of that outlet to expand my thinking, that is one of the big things you learn in choreography and improvisation is learning to take something and change it into something else,” said Devon, “that’s kind of how I ended up working through computer science, I was on the more creative side of it - out of the box thinking, and I think that spurs from dance.”
Devon’s piece is titled “A Place Where…” leaving the interpretation of the title for the audience to determine a place where you fit in and belong. Keeping the piece an open-ended question where the audience can answer however they want to. The piece is a metaphor for Devon’s life, a journey to find where you belong and do what you want to.
“When you see the piece it’s these three individuals who are different in their own way, but they have to go through struggle, hard work, and termination and ultimately finding that place where they belong and they fit in and are accepted,” said Devon. “That is kind of how my life was like, I went through a lot of struggle and then I realized what I actually wanted to do and then I had to work hard to get to where I was, but now that I’m getting to that place, I have to be happy where I end up and succeed.”
Devon’s solo is similar to his group piece, but more about discovering that thing that makes you, you. “The solo is more of just us, like us individually and then our group piece is like our choreography and our work like what our movement looks like on stage,” said Devon.
His solo strives to make the audience think about what makes them different from everyone else and embrace that. During his studies at CSU, Devon has gotten the opportunity to work with many guest artists and see different companies come through that have taught him actual movements for performances on stage to help grow as a dancer. He has felt that his studies have been very nurturing and inspiring, giving the encouragement to pursue a career in dance as he hopes to after graduation.