Wyatt Payne says he “can’t even imagine” what his life will be like after Friends University.
A senior ballet student at the university, he has taken classes there since his senior year at Maize High School.
This weekend, he and three other student choreographers will get their first taste of life after Friends.
The school is hosting its biannual student choreography showcase on Friday and Saturday – a show produced entirely by students about to leap into the professional dance world.
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They’re responsible for choreography, casting their dances, designing lights, crafting a program, creating costumes and promoting their original shows.
“It’s been really interesting to see all of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into putting a show on,” said Amelia Mitchell, one of the senior choreographers. “It’s been an eye-opening experience to see how much work actually goes into putting on a show, besides just the rehearsals and learning choreography.”
Though the four dancers – seniors Payne, Mitchell, Madeleine Roe and junior Courtney Miller – all have dance backgrounds that include extensive contemporary ballet, their productions are drastically different.
For example, Payne’s is a combination of contemporary ballet and jazz, while Roe experiments with “strange and modern formulation.”
“You wouldn’t be able to tell we came from the same place, because they’re so different,” Payne said.
Each 12- to 15-minute piece has at least four dancers who have rehearsed and memorized the choreography, and some of those dancers are in all four productions.
“They’re probably exhausted,” Roe said with a laugh. “The dancers in all four pieces probably have to memorize an hour of choreography, but they’ve been doing a really good job with that.”
The students hope the experience they gain in orchestrating every aspect of the performance will likely serve them well in their careers after college
“The people I dance with are almost as close as my family, because we spend a minimum of seven hours together every day,” Payne said. “We’re all really close.”
Friends University Student Choreography Showcase
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 3 and 4
Where: Sebits Auditorium, Riney Fine Arts Center, 2100 W. University
What: Four 12- to 15-minute ballet productions assembled entirely by juniors and seniors in Friends’ Ballet program