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Department Of Dance

Contemporary Dance Theatre Combines Dance and Fabric to Evoke Soulful Emotions in 'Textile' Showcase

BYU School of Communications Student Savannah Hsu Reports on the CDT Showcase "Textile"

By Savannah Hsu, School of Communications

CDT "The Feel"
BYU Contemporary Dance Theatre performs "The Feel of Plastic” by Matt Warner. CDT presented their “Textile” showcase Nov 4-5.
Photo by Savannah Hsu

BYU Contemporary Dance Theatre performed their highly-anticipated showcase “Textile” at the Richards Building Dance Studio Theater on Nov. 4 and 5.

With 10 choreographed pieces and 21 dancers, the sold out showcase combined aspects of dance and fabrics to express heavy emotions through their movements.

Themes of loss, societal expectations and the contrast of light are just a snippet of what was presented at the showcase. From local Utah dancers to guests from New York, CDT had the chance to learn pieces from a collective of creative voices in the field.

Dance professor Kori Wakamatsu choreographed the piece “With What is Left” and said she was inspired by what the world has been experiencing the last few years collectively. From loss of opportunities through the pandemic, loss of life and even loss of civility and connection, she wanted to portray the feelings of loss through her piece.

Going along with the showcase theme of textile, Wakamatsu illustrated her theme by incorporating scarfs and layers of costume that shifted and got left on stage. She said the scarves and costumes are a literal representation of textile, but there is a tactile experience represented through movement and physical connection of the dancers in her choreography.

Wakamatsu said she hoped the audience could have an “open kinesthetic response” from the showcase. She said sometimes people have a preconceived notion that contemporary dance is weird, but “it’s okay if people say it's weird because I think weird doesn't have to be bad.”

She hoped watching the dancers move in such beautiful capacity and expressivity can inspire the audience to move and be open to the experience of contemporary dance.

Dancer Jewel Hatch-Killpack said the dancers practiced for nine hours every day, two weeks before school started and learned more pieces throughout the semester. She said she hoped texture was showcased well throughout the performances.

“The pieces are so different, but the movement quality can become the same throughout if you’re not embodying the texture,” Hatch-Killpack said. “So, I hope that it really does look like different aspects of textures physically.”

Hatch-Killpack goes on to explain how they were able to embody physical textures throughout their movement. As an example, she said one can change the “texture” of a swiping motion by reimagining they are going through honey and moving their hands slowly while going down.

Dancer Cleo Ong said being on stage and being able to showcase the hard work for an audience makes the intense rehearsals and training worthwhile. She said to not psychoanalyze every movement and to not think too deeply when watching contemporary dance.

Audience member Jackson Liljenquist said he thinks it's amazing how contemporary dance can be interpreted differently every time you watch it. He said he feels like he's watching a Sherlock Holmes or Christopher Nolan movie because even if you watch it four times, you might still not totally understand it, but there can be something new to pick up every time.

“I think that’s really cool, the fact that what you’re experiencing is something that no one else is going to be able to experience," Liljenquist said.

Audience member Tina Stokes said she loves the way dance can connect to people in different ways. She said some things can make you feel joy and other things can connect to some sorrows in your life.

“I just love how all the dancers come together in a beautiful way," Stokes said. "I like how so many different stories are told and the costumes and the light and everything just works together to make it so impactful and beautiful."