Rosemount Modern Dance Company expresses through movement

High school students tackle issues in ‘As We Walk’

The Rosemount High School Modern Dance Company will present “As We Walk” on Friday, May 19, in the school’s Performing Arts Center. Photo by Tad Johnson

Sometimes it’s not easy to walk through life.

The Modern Dance Company at Rosemount High School will depict some of the challenges faced by people today and throughout history in its new production “As We Walk” 7 p.m. Friday, May 19, in the school’s Performing Arts Center.

Director Christina Morris said the show was inspired by discussions she had with students about the social and political climate in the past and present and where they hope it goes in the future.

Morris said the company has always had a social awareness and tried to communicate something to audiences.

“We want to tell a story or ask the audience to contemplate tough questions,” Morris said.

Among the pieces that the company has been preparing since the beginning of the school year focus on the isolation teens feel in a social media dominated world and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech.”

“I’m really excited about the show,” Morris said. “There is strong choreography. They have developed their craft. Their work is sophisticated.”

Senior student Janae Mann choreographed a piece that was inspired by King’s speech.

She said she developed the piece by first writing her reflections about the speech while listening to music then rewriting the speech in her own words.

While working it out in her mind, Mann said that she creates movements based on the words. The choreography comes to her while she’s on stage with the cast, as she leads them through what she’s translating into movement.

Mann, who plans to attend Winona State University to study marketing and business, calls the creative process somewhat improvisational though it is based on what she visualized through writing.

She said the piece is powerful, reflective and different than anything she’s choreographed before in her two years of developing pieces for the company.

The minimalistic piece takes the audience from isolation to empowerment, as the struggle is personified.

When asked if she was more nervous when dancing or watching one of her piece’s performed, Mann said it’s watching.

“To be part of the creative process with everyone you get to channel your performance and the process together and not just told what to do,” she said. “I’m watching with nervousness. I want them all to do well, and to see that is pretty amazing.”

“Being part of the company has been one of the most amazing experiences,” Mann said. “We only have one performance a year and we leave it all the stage. We’ve been practicing once a week every week since October. That’s a lot of rehearsals for us to do it only once.”

Morris said the show comes together based on the interests and strengths of the students. They not only brainstorm what themes to introduce into the pieces but also what movements to use.

“The Modern Dance Company is one of the most rewarding and creative outlets at the school,” Morris said. “We work like a professional company would work. They have to do all of their own costuming and lighting, … advertising, and designing the program.”

The company also selects a nonprofit organization to donate proceeds from the event.

General admission tickets for the show are $5 for students and $7 for adults. Funds raised by the show will got to benefit Moms and Neighbors — a nonprofit organization that provides assistance to families in the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District facing hardships that prevent them from buying groceries, gas, clothing or living expenses.

Modern Dance Company members are Sophia Anderson, Abbie Doran, Gigi Freking, Rachel Hart, Anna Loughridge, Janae Mann, Elaina McRath, Anna Olson, Macie Riste, Chase Werkhoven, Reilly Werkhoven, Natasha West, Kasey Zacharias and Kaia Zeigler.

Contact Tad Johnson at [email protected] or at twitter.com/editorTJ.