A Celebration of Life and Dance
Contemporary Dance Theatre (CDT) is finding original ways to express love for life and dance in its new show, Viva! Vibrant colors and uplifting music join with thoughtfully choreographed dances to bring a kaleidoscope of relatable stories to the audience.
“We want [a show] that describes all the varieties of circumstances in life—a celebration of life, so to speak,” says CDT director Nathan Balser. “Our show has fun, creative, inventive, and spectacular aspects to it as well as thoughtful and heartfelt moments. We want to respect what Contemporary Dance Theatre does best: investigates, creates, innovates, and explores. We want to do it in a way that is engaging for any audience.”
Building a new repertoire takes a considerable amount of time and hard work. Balser used every resource available and focused on the mission of the group. “CDT’s first mission is to educate its students. Part of that education is to expose them to current artists in the field of contemporary dance,” he says. The new show will have choreography from respected professionals in dance, such as Peter Chu, Sara Pearson, and Patrik Widrig. The choreographers who work with the company usually spend 22 to 30 hours building a dance. The students also contributed in creating a few dances alongside Balser. “We explored different ideas and movements and, in the end, that makes the dances more personal for us,” says CDT dancer Benjamin Butters.
Contemporary Dance Theatre will take its new show to Utah, Southern California, and Nevada in March 2016.
Curt Holman Designs Swing ’n’ SwayBallroom Dance Company is known worldwide for its highly trained dancers, spectacular shows, and professionalism. From its beginning in 1960, Ballroom Dance Company has been guided by directors who helped build the legacy of the company today. Lee and Linda Wakefield were directors from 1980 unttil their retirement last year, when the group embraced Curt Holman and his wife, Sharon, as the new artistic director and associate artistic director.
The Holmans, who both have a master’s degree in dance, met while on the ballroom team at BYU. Since then they have been honored to perform at the prestigious British Open Championships in Blackpool, England, and the World Cabaret Championships in the Netherlands. Curt has worked as a dance professor at BYU since 1993. “My longevity with both BYU and Ballroom Dance Company has given me a needed perspective of the program to carry it on,” he says.
This year the company premieres its show Swing ’n’ Sway and will tour in the United Kingdom, where they will also compete at Blackpool. “[Curt Holman] is a master at choreography,” says BYU ballroom dancer Tanner Grenko. “He has a way of telling a story through dance while having it aesthetically pleasing. He has done a fantastic job in changing and enhancing the dances.” Having choreographed many championship routines for U.S. couples, Curt is excited to explore new ways to present Ballroom Dance Company. “I’m looking forward to creating a show that is both artistic and theatric,” he says. “It’ll be a fresh approach to the program.”
Leading the SingersBYU Singers recently welcomed a new director, Dr. Andrew Crane, who comes to BYU with an extensive background in conducting students. He was director of choral activities at East Carolina University for four years and at California State University, San Bernardino, for six years before that. He also led the East Carolina University Chamber Singers to finish first place in the 13th International Choral Competition Gallus in Maribor, Slovenia.
Dr. Crane graduated from BYU with a bachelor’s in music education in 2000 and a master’s in choral conducting in 2003. He then completed a doctor of musical arts in performance degree from Michigan State University. The experience that Crane had as a student in BYU Singers now helps him direct the group. “Andrew Crane has been a great addition to the staff,” says choir member Gideon Burrows. “He understands musicality and helps us reach a healthy and beautiful tone.”
Now an associate professor of choral conducting, Crane feels very fortunate to be working at BYU. “We aim to perform high-quality choral music that can share BYU’s mission to uplift and inspire,” Crane says. “My predecessor, Ronald Staheli, built an amazing legacy. He was well known both nationally and abroad. He reached his audiences with high-level and emotional music, and we want to continue with that.”
Crane looks forward to conducting such incredible students. “BYU students have a certain bright intelligence to them,” he says. “It’s inspiring how committed they are to their faith and to everything they do.”
In April and May 2016, BYU Singers will tour throughout Arizona.