Arts & Culture / Mosaic / January 30, 2013

Terpsichore Dance Collective focuses on winter classes

This March, there is one end-of-term tradition that will be distinctly absent from the lineup of finals week entertainment: the Terpsichore Dance Collective performance.

Terpsichore is a Knox College staple more affectionately known as Terp. During performances, Harbach Theatre hosts hundreds of Terp fans, who often overflow into the aisles. But because of this year’s Repertory Term XVI, Terp president and junior Evelyn Langley wanted to respect and support the theatre department’s use of Harbach.

“The [theater] department has been just an incredible resource for us as a club,” Langley said. “I think in the past we’ve felt like those ties have not been shared both ways, as if we’ve taken too much and not given back enough.”

In addition, Langley sees winter term as an opportunity to turn Terp’s focus inward.

“As a club, it’s not just about the performances,” Langley said. “We tend to start seeing ourselves in that light, but I think we want to be more dedicated as a club to exploring dance together.”

In order to do so, Terp is offering a variety of student-taught classes that are open to campus. Freshman Hannah Steele is teaching two classes: Dance Conditioning and Modern Dance.

“I’ve done most styles,” Steele said, “but modern is definitely my favorite. And I have more training in that than almost anything else.”

With 10 years of dance experience, Steele is no stranger to the studio. In addition to teaching, she plans to attend all of the other classes that Terp offers this term: Jazz, Ballet, Hip Hop and Contemporary (beginning in February).

“It’s a really cool experience to be able to dance,” Steele said, “and I think Knox does a great job of really getting the community involved, and so it’s not an elite group of people who’ve been dancing their entire lives.”

In accordance with this belief that anyone can dance, Terp’s classes require no prior experience.

“They’re just open, casual classes,” Langley said. “People can come … as little or as often as they’d like.”

Post-Baccalaureate Fellow Brandon Paraharm ’12 got involved with ClearVision, a Chicago-style street jazz group, at age 16. This term, he is using some of that knowledge to teach Terp’s Street Jazz and Contemporary Jazz class.

“So, I’m pretty much teaching my life,” Paraharm said. “[The genre is] something that I know not many people at Knox are exposed to, but I know a lot of people have an interest in the way that I move and the way that I’ve choreographed.”

He hopes that his students will leave with more than lithe limbs.

“Things that you learn in dance are life lessons as well,” Paraharm said. “Your mind hopefully should be just as renewed or even more [so than] your body.”

Though the curtain will not be rising on a Terp performance this term, Langley is content to consider the positives.

“Thinking about what kind of environment we want to be creating, what kind of relationship do dancers have to an audience, what does it mean to perform and how does the space effect that?” Langley said. “I think these are all important things to think about, and I hope that this term will allow us [to do that], and [consider] how we want to shape … what comes next.”

Blair Peters

Tags:  ballet conditioning dance hip hop Jazz modern terp terpsichore terpsichore dance collective

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