Taking a different approach from their usual performances, this year’s Orchesis Dance Theatre performance will allow audience members to experience the performers closer than ever.
Weber State University’s Department of Performing Arts annually presents Orchesis, a performance of student and faculty choreography presented through individual pieces combined with an overlaying theme.
This year, however, instead of a typical dance performance with the audience seated in front of a stage, with a significant distance between audience members and performers, the audience will surround the stage on three sides, with only two feet separating audience members from the dancers.
Because of this change of style, this year’s performance is aptly titled “Orchesis Dance Theatre Presents: Up Close.”
One of the student choreographers, Conner Erickson, explained the effect of this change. “The distance really makes it that more personal,” Erickson said. “It feels like you’re part of the piece rather than just watching a piece.”
Another student choreographer, Ciera White, said being in close proximity to the dancers opens the audience’s eyes to what is happening in the pieces.
“A lot of the time when we go to performances as audience members, we kind of feel disconnected from the performers,” White said. “We go there to get an escape and get away. But in this, the performers are thrown right in front of you, so you don’t have an option to distance yourself.”
Erik Stern, professor of dance at WSU, is the overall director of Orchesis. He described how each piece was choreographed individually, without the choreographers having a lot of outside influence from him or other directors.
Stern explained the opportunity for students to be choreographers is a learning opportunity for them regarding creativity, leadership, organization and creative problem solving.
“One of the things I think is really hard for people to perceive is how difficult dance is,” Stern said. “Our students are very good, but there’s a range of abilities. This is a great opportunity for them to stretch themselves and explore.”
Erickson added that audience members can expect intensely physical and emotional moments in every piece. He believes the up-close performance will be a perspective-changing experience for audience members.
“When you’re up close, you’re two feet from a dancer who’s holding this pose,” Erickson said. “You can see their legs shaking. It gives you this appreciation, almost, that you can’t see unless you’re visibly two feet from that dancer.”
Orchesis performances will be held in the Eccles Theater in the Val A. Browning Center for the Performing Arts on Nov. 16–18 at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee performance on Nov. 18 at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $12 for the general public and $10 for students, seniors and military, and can be purchased at weberstatetickets.com.