By Tanner Kent
The Free Press
MANKATO — Before rehearsals begin, Sophia Pimsler and her quartet of sophomore dancers always take a few minutes to gather in a circle and talk. Or, in some cases, vent.
Rehearsals have been busy lately. And those few therapeutic moments help everyone stay relaxed.
“Sometimes that relieves a lot of stress,” she said.
Pimsler is a double major in dance and dance education at Minnesota State University. Her dance, “Floccus” (Latin for “flock”), was one of three student pieces chosen for the upcoming Fall Dance Concert.
Each fall dance showcase is divided into a so-called faculty portion — which also includes performances choreographed by MSU instructors and guest artists — and a student portion. The faculty portion is performed twice, once each on Friday and Saturday, while the student showcase is held Sunday afternoon.
Being chosen to participate in the faculty showcase is a feather in the cap for any student dancer. The process is competitive and Pimsler has had dances rejected in the past.
But this year’s selection comes with responsibility. In addition to teaching the finer points of her choreography to her small team of dancers, Pimsler is also familiarizing them with using vocals during their performances — something many dancers have never experienced. And to make matters more difficult, Pimsler must also teach her pupils a dance technique she only learned herself over the summer.
“They’re learning a whole new style,” said Pimsler, who spent several weeks learning Gaga, an Israeli dance form that emphasizes fluidity throughout the body. “It challenges the studio training a lot of dancers have.”
Other MSU students selected to choreograph dances are Brenda Martinson and Michelle Collins.
Martinson’s “5812” is based on the Bible’s Book of James. Collins, who choreographed “Parallel Dream,” is one of five students in the inaugural crop of students in MSU’s BFA dance program.
The concert also includes pieces choreographed by faculty members Julie Kerr-Berry and Daniel Stark, as well as guest artists Gabriel Anderson and Penelope Freeh.
Kerr-Berry’s piece is based on the idea of a circle and works to introduce some of the newer dancers to the audience. Stark’s piece, “Folktale,” is based on the extremities of emotion and how to reveal the reasoning behind that emotion. The questioning of progress, its purpose and purported benefits is the intent for Anderson’s piece, “In Lieu of Progress.” Freeh’s piece, “Ancient Elegy,” which opens the concert, will use a ballet dance “vocabulary” to get the audience thinking.