Dancing on the Mainstage

By Darren Young

After a three-month hibernation, the dancers at the University of Calgary are starting to creep out of their studios and into the University Theatre to present their latest Mainstage Dance show.

The dancers have spent hours a day for the past several weeks in preparation for the show, which is typically one of the most popular fine arts events at the university. Amongst the dedicated crew of movement specialists is artistic director Melanie Kloetzel, who promises another fantastic and eclectic year for the Mainstage Dance production.

“The show has five professional choreographers that come from all around the world,” says Kloetzel. “It’s a nice mix. Three of the choreographers are doing contemporary [dances], one is doing ballet and one is doing hip hop.”

In addition to being the artistic director of the show, Kloetzel is also the choreographer of one of the contemporary numbers alongside her colleagues Milan Kozà nek and Wojciech Mochniej. Rounding out the roster of choreographers is ballet choreographer Lindsay Walsh and hip-hop artist Tara Wilson. Kloetzel is still a relatively new addition to the U of C Dance faculty, but has an impressive history of experience including time as the Director of Dance at Idaho State University.

“Since I’m the brand-new faculty member, I became artistic director for the show,” explains Kloetzel. “I had a dance company in New York for about seven years. I’ve been a choreographer and a performer for quite a long time and I have been a director many a time.”

With the other choreographers for the show, Kloetzel has helped to develop a program that can be described as a commentary on contemporary culture. The ballet by Lindsay Walsh examines the concept of incessant internal noise, while Kloetzel delves into the realm of the fairytale for her number. Each piece has taken some time to research and coordinate, but the time to execute actual performances is fairly limited.

“I’ve been exploring the idea of the fairytale for about a year now,” says Kloetzel. “This comes together remarkably quickly. People always prefer a little more time as artists, but it comes with the job and you just have to roll with the punches.”

Choreography requires research and a relentless attention to details that include not only physical movements, but aesthetic consideration as well. The dancers have costumes in which they perform on original sets under a variety of lights with diverse musical accompaniment.

“The sets for this particular evening are quite impressive,” says Koetzel. “They were designed by each choreographer with the help of University Theatre Services.”

With all the pieces in their right place, Mainstage Dance 2008 promises to be an exciting event on campus. Spring is in the air, so take a step out of your burrows and head on down to the University Theatre this week to see the dancers roll with the punches, kicks, lock steps and pirouettes.

Mainstage Dance is unveiled in the University Theatre Mar. 13-15. Tickets are available at Campus Ticket Centre.

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