Professional and amateur choreographers work together

Since the middle of September, 19 dancers of varying ages and levels gathered every Sunday in a gym at the University of Calgary to rehearse a dance number that focuses on human reactions to change.

The choreographer of the piece, Jill Henis, 39, describes the number as being “a look at the moments that occur as change is upon us.”

The music of the 10-minute number, called Melting Point, reflects the overall theme by combing a song with verbal text from the dancers until the song is no longer recognizable.

Dancers in Jill Henis’ Melting Point rehearse in a gym at the university.

Photo by Bre Brezinski

The inspiration for the piece came to Henis from knowing that the dancers would be “a real melting pot of people and dancers and experience,” she said.

Henis, originally from Vancouver, has been a part of the professional dance community for almost 20 years.

Apart from choreographing this number, Henis is the founder and owner of Calgary’s mixOLOGY danceMine, which Henis described as being a “full-time practicing, professional, contemporary dance company.”

Henis said that the mandate of mixOLOGY is to “create within community.”

The themes of her mixOLOGY and her piece Melting Point are directly in line with the concept of the University of Calgary’s upcoming dance production Dance Montage 2012 – which is where Henis’ piece will be shown.

Anne Flynn, the artistic director of Dance Montage 2012, said, “Part of the philosophy of Dance Montage has always been that everyone should have an opportunity to dance.”

“Dancing is a basic human activity and we should do our best in society to provide opportunity for people to be able to dance,” Flynn said.

Dance Montage, produced yearly at the University of Calgary, combines dancers and choreographers from the school’s dance program with members of the dance community.

Henis said that Dance Montage is important because it brings “different parts of the community into dance, and different dance styles.”

Since Henis is not a part of U of C’s dance program, she had to go through an application process, as did all the dancers.

All of the choreographers are creating new works, Flynn said, noting that the program includes mixing diverse dancers with “diversity of levels and a diversity of style of choreography.”

A dancer in Henis’ number, Quinn Kliewer, 22, is a dance major at the university.

Dance majors and community members rehearse together for the upcoming Dance Montage.

Photo by Bre Brezinski Being a second-year dance major, Kliewer has participated in Dance Montage for the past two years. Last year she was involved with a piece that only included other dance students.

“In the program we are always dancing with the same people, which is good, but it is also good to be able to work with new people,” Kliewer said of Dance Montage.

This year, Henis’ number involved both dance majors and community members.

“You get to see how big the dance community in Calgary actually is,” Kliewer said.

Dance Montage 2012 was performed at the University of Calgary from Nov. 22 – 24. Approximately 1,558 people attended the various shows over the three days.

bbrezinski@cjournal.ca