Places Between Explores Next Steps for Graduating Dancers

By Nicole Towne, SMTD Publicity Intern

Colorado State University students Shannon Gerney, Emily Kaiser, and Julianna Williams prepare to bookend their time training with the dance department. Before they empty out their lockers for good, they will first take their combined 50 years of dance experience and construct a show from the ground up.

The work of Gerney, Kaiser, and Williams will be presented Dec. 8-9 in the 2017 Fall Capstone Concert at the University Center for the Arts.

Each dancer is required to choreograph and perform a four to seven-minute solo, choreograph an eight to twelve-minute group piece, and perform in each other’s group pieces. Additionally, they select costumes, music, and a theme for the concert. The show titled Places Between, explores the concept of being in a time of transition and change. It is about ending one phase and preparing to start another.

“As a graduating senior, I’m very much in an in between place,” Gerney said. “I’m still a student, but at the same time I need to look towards the future and what’s next.”

Gerney’s solo is about choosing to take life as it comes to you. It’s rooted in the phrase “go with the flow” and utilizes water symbolism. “It’s me being able to move on and accept that life is taking me in a different direction than I thought it was going to,” Gerney said. “I’m really excited and happy about that now. I went through a phase where I had to process and deal with that.”

Her group piece centers around the idea of feeling stuck in an unhealthy relationship. It’s not something she has experienced, but it’s been a situation she has been pondering. “You’re kind of stuck in that place between knowing you should leave, but not being able to yet,” Gerney said.

For Gerney, performing on stage is indescribable and unlike any other experience. “I love being on stage and being able to share my art with other people,” Gerney said. “There’s no word I ever found that can quite describe the feeling I get when I’m on stage. It’s just such a rush. It’s wonderful.”

When Kaiser’s group piece takes the stage, the dancers will be dressed in navy leotards and skater skirts. The piece is less about portraying a specific idea, or theme, and more about establishing what she refers to as music visualization.

Kaiser said she likes to bring out accents in the music with her choreography. “I want the audience to interpret what they want to feel from seeing my choreography and hearing the music,” Kaiser said about her group piece that embodies perpetual motion, taking her ten dancers swiftly from one movement to the next.

For Kaiser, it is important to bring out the colors she hears in the music by incorporating them into costumes. Her group piece draws heavily on the color blue, and in her solo, Kaiser will be wearing an olive-green dress. “I didn’t want anything too dramatic or complicated (for costumes),” Kaiser said. “I like to keep it simple and play with matching the colors to the sounds.”

Capstone senior Julianna Williams describes her choreography as flowy and with the music. Her choreography for the show utilizes common gestures to depict various emotions. She also takes a lot of inspiration for her choreography from music. In particular, she likes violin and piano music.

“I have always been a fan of piano because growing up, my aunts always played and my cousin is super amazing at playing,” Williams said. “Violin music is just so beautiful to me, and I really admire people who can master such a complex instrument.”

Williams choose Woodkid’s “Land of All” for her solo, which incorporates both orchestra and vocals.

Her solo flows directly into the group piece, creating a 15-minute section. Both the solo and the group piece feature a large piece of fabric. “It signifies a weight you have in your life,” Williams said. “At the end of my solo I release this weight. The group piece comes on and they take this huge piece of fabric and dance with it."

Williams goal for performance is to have all her dancers leave it all on the stage. “I think a goal would be to just have all of my cast dance as full out as they can and not to hold anything back in any of the shows” Williams said.

Ticket Information

Tickets for the performance are no charge for Full-fee paying CSU students, $3 for youth (under 18), and $12 for seniors (62+), and $14 for adults. 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

Senior Dance Major Bios

Shannon Gerney is a dance major with a combined passion for the science and dance. She grew up in North Carolina outside of Raleigh and started dance before her third birthday. At age 13 she performed as Clara in the Nutcracker. After graduation she hopes to continue onto grad school and become a physical therapist. Ideally, she would like to work with dancers and help them to have long and healthy careers.

Emily Kaiser is a Journalism and Media Communications and Dance double major from Thornton, Colorado. She started dance at age three and began competing at age eight with the Premier School of Dance in Thornton. She also performed with the dance company LA Magic. Kaiser, who has a passion for choreography, hopes to have a career in public relations or marketing while maintaining involvement in a company as a dancer, teacher, or guest choreographer.

Julianna Williams is double majoring in Dance and Human Development and Family Studies. She is interested in working with children with special needs and developing a dance therapy program. Williams is from Parker, Colorado and started dance at age four. She has performed solos in the Nutcracker as the Sugarplum Fairy. She has trained, performed, and competed competitively with the Parker Dance Academy before coming to CSU.