Augustana’s first fine arts dance group premiered first dance Tuesday night

  April 9 went down in history for the ArtiTänzer Project.

    The newly-formed fine arts dance club hosted its first performance in Hamre Hall on Tuesday night.

    Working with the Augie Feminist Equality Movement, the English and Journalism department and It’s On Us, the ArtiTänzer Project focused on the physical and sexual abuse of women in the military.

    After guests versed on the subject spoke and sophomore Grace Bucklin read some poetry for the first half hour, the club took to the stage and performed club president Angelina Gibson’s original choreography piece “No Man’s Land/ War is Never Cheap Here,” followed by an extensive question-and-answer session between the audience and those involved in the night.

    Freshman dancer Jayci Holsing said that the “emotional” performance of “No Man’s Land/ War is Never Cheap Here” is split into three acts, the first being “more of a lyrical, beautiful dance.” The second act is choreographed to be representative of the military subject, followed by coverage of the abuse in the third act.

    While the athletic department’s spirit squad focuses on dance in sport, the ArtiTänzer Project is the first fine arts dance club on campus, according to Madeleine Ellis, associate director of admissions and professional dancer with the local LiRa Dance Company.

    The club focuses on tackling difficult subject matter through lyrical, tap and contemporary dance choreography, providing dancers with a creative outlet while also portraying social issues.

    “I was noticing that we have a lot of really, really talented dancers on this campus who, maybe the Augustana dance team wasn’t the right fit for them,” said Ellis. “I think the conversation had been brought up on campus multiple times.”

    With Ellis’ encouragement, Gibson—a choreographer and dancer herself—acted on those conversations this year.

    In addition to working with Rec Services to provide a studio dance class to students on Wednesday nights, Gibson hosted tryouts for the inaugural season of the ArtiTänzer Project before the end of the fall semester.

    When classes resumed in January, she had a team of about seven dancers, ranging from dance team members to those involved with dance companies.

    The name of the game for the first semester as an official club—their constitution passed unanimously through the ASA Senate this past November—is collaboration, said Gibson.

    Gibson said the ArtiTänzer Project is currently floating around ideas for future collaborations. She is hopeful that her club will be able to focus on one project per year moving forward.

    “I’d love to do something with the Black Student Union honestly, something with the religion department, the art department” and collaborate to get dance into their mission, said Gibson.

    Added Ellis: “I’m just so impressed with Angelina’s ability to use dance as a platform for social change and hope that students come out to support it, and faculty and staff alike.”

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