A Springtime Bouquet of Dance: The Art of Performance

Reflected Seasons 2013 Choreography by Chung-Fu Chang

by Anna Massara

Springtime brings with it a rhythm of life whether it be the frenetic movement of humming birds, the emergence from a newly hatched egg, or the gentle movement elicited from an evening breeze. Colorado State University's Spring Dance Concert continues this rite of spring by bringing to its stage the movement of creativity as its dance artists take their final bows for the season.

According to Director of Dance at CSU, Jane Slusarski-Harris, the Spring Dance Concert will feature a variety of styles to include a wide spectrum of dance forms, such as classical ballet, modern dance, jazz, hip-hop, and tap. Assistant Professor of Ballet & Pedagogy, Carol Roderick, stated that “Most of the pieces are original choreographic works by students, faculty, and guest artists, so there is a broad spectrum of creative work represented.”

“This concert marks the year's culmination of dance, performance, and passion for creative movement,” notes Slusarski-Harris.

“All of the performers in this program are CSU dance majors,” emphasized Roderick. “Following auditions for each piece, the choreographers/directors make casting decisions based on their assessment of the abilities and suitability of the dancers for the roles being considered. It is one of the expectations of their course work to audition and perform on a regular basis.”

As a florist designs a bouquet from flowers grown in a greenhouse and nurtured by a nursery worker, dance performances are just as collaborative. Roderick explained, “Dancers choose certain music (perhaps for rhythmic movement inspiration). They envision their work in the context of light and color (lighting designers), and costume it (patrons). They are inspired by their own dancing, and also by the artistry of other dancers. There are often set designs or scenery on the stage.”

Slusarski-Harris mentioned that it is also beneficial for the students to participate in a performance of this caliber because they get to interact and receive professional treatment by lighting professionals and other stage personnel. In their course work, students study theory, but when they are the performers, they are able to apply theory to practice.

Spring Dance Concert 2013 Performance Photo

2013 Spring Dance Concert


Roderick herself began ballet training as a young child, and as she continued training, it became a part of her life. Noting that performing and teaching are “two distinct professions,” Roderick realized that her passion and abilities led her to teaching as a career. “The job that we do as dance teachers is very intense and gratifying. We work very directly with our individual students, passing on to them our personal knowledge, experience, and advice.”

The Spring Dance Concert is the showcase performance for many of the dance majors at CSU who have benefited from the teachings and talents of instructors such as Carol Roderick. “It is not unusual for the vast majority of dance majors to be involved in these performances every semester,” noted Roderick. Her love for dance and her students clearly shows. “We do this every day, in small groups, verbally and with live musical accompaniment, and almost exclusively without the use of written materials. It is very collaborative, very detailed, and very interesting!”

Concert goers will also be honored to experience the work of guest artist-in-residence Kun-Chen Shih. A native of Taiwan, Shih taught as well as danced professionally in locales such as Austria, France, and the Netherlands, as well as in his native Taiwan.

A self-described nomad, Shih was in Taiwan when he met Chung-Fu Chang, associate professor of dance and director of CSU Tour Dance Company. Shih was delighted to accept Chang's offer to do a two-month dance residency at CSU.

“Shih brings a spectrum of contemporary dance experiences, fusing European and Asian styles, and a unique artistic discipline for our program,” said Chang.

Read more about the residency.

The final touch to this garden of delight is the performance itself presented live in the University Dance Theatre at the University Center of the Arts. As Roderick pointed out, “Only live theatre (the performing arts, which includes music, theatre, and dance) is a direct performance experience. The experience of attending a live performance is completely different aesthetically, physiologically, emotionally, and intellectually.”
Performances for the Spring Dance Concert are Friday, April 19, at 8 p.m. and on Saturday, April 20, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. in the University Dance Theatre at the University Center for the Arts, 1400 Remington Street, Fort Collins.