Though students enter the “Dance and Related Arts” course thinking it’s just like any other class, the resulting performances, exhibited in the Dance and Related Arts show, turn out like nothing they’ve ever created before.

John Cage is a Fungi

Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.
Betty Pease Studio Theater

Though all School of Music, Theatre & Dance students, the 29 undergraduate and graduate participants come from various departments, including dance, performance arts and technology, music composition and strings, and are undergraduates and graduates. The class, a requirement for dance majors, encourages collaboration among students from various disciplines.

The students were randomly divided into five groups consisting of five or six members and were asked to create a performance piece based on this year’s theme artist, John Cage, famed composer of the ’50s. Past years’ themes have included “Order and Chaos,” “Creation” and “Millennium/Utopia.”

According to MT&D junior Ali Coleman, the students are given “no limits or guidelines,” but are given feedback throughout the semester from professors Bill De Young and Stephen Rush.

Coleman said, unlike other pieces she has done, this performance doesn’t really have a lot of dancing — “just a lot of movement with music.” Her group also incorporated vocalization, acting, mime and technology.

She added that her group’s piece will “really broaden (students) perspective on what performance arts can be.”

Unlike other shows, most participants will be on stage at some point, including the musicians and composers.

Also distinct to the show is the original music produced. MT&D junior Nola Smith described how John Cage and his music production techniques inspired her group to listen to the sounds that often go unnoticed.

“A lot of (Cage’s) philosophy is listening to what’s already there. Music is all around. The role of the artist is not to create, but to take off the blinders,” Smith said.

Her group recorded the sounds of her classmates arriving to class one day and then “took off from there” to create their music.

The resulting piece is “a little creepy, but also touching,” and Smith hopes that students will feel the emotional impact. The piece will feature a multimedia collage being built before the viewers’ eyes.

Coleman wants students to understand her group’s performance, which takes a comedic approach to a serious topic — which will be revealed on Friday.

Though the students hope to receive positive reactions from the audience, the performers have already taken much from the experience.

Coleman explained that it’s nice to make relationships with other people besides dance majors.

“It’s so interesting hearing perspectives from other people from other majors (than dance) when it comes to creating a piece,” Coleman said.

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