Terp Fall ’14: Sunflowers, Suspenders, and Sex Goddesses

“A sunflower is born and dies while Bjork sings lullabies.”—Eriq Robinson ’15

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Terpsichore is a student-run and student-choreographed dance show that happens once every semester. There’s a variety of dance genres, from breakdance to weird art concept dance, and a range of dancers from the non-experienced to trained. This semester’s dance features both Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” and a Bjork-soundtracked dance about sunflowers. There are over 100 students participating (probably the reason why Terp sold out a week ago), so you definitely will recognize some of the dancers.

There are two Terp shows tonight, one at 7PM and one at 10PM (the drunk show), and a show at 1PM on Saturday in the World Music Hall. You will probably still get in if you show up early and put your name on the waitlist.

In order to find out a bit more about the choreographers and the choreographing process, I asked this semester’s Terp choreographers about their experience with the show. There are 12 dances in the show, and not all of their choreographers are represented here. Check out the show to see them for yourself!

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Beanie Feldstein ’15 and Tess Jonas ’15; Dance: “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” (Lion King)

1. What’s your previous dance experience (at Wes, and before)?
Beanie: I began taking formal dance classes of all styles in order to strengthen my musical theater performing. Eventually, I became the worst one in the advanced class. I’m a master “fancer”—fake dancer. I can pick up choreography very quickly and my facial expressions are on point, but my technique is not supreme. For me, it’s all about the face. This is my first dance experience at Wesleyan though! I’m bummed I waited this long.

Tess: Before Wes my dance experience was, like beanie, geared towards musical theater—I did jazz, swing, VERY REMEDIAL tap, and some hip hop. I picked up modern at Wes and I’m a major, so I’ve done a lot of dance department things, taken mod, hip hop, ballet, and west af, studied dance abroad, and I’m doing a dance thesis now! I’m also in COMO and did Terp last year.

2. Why’d you decide to be involved in Terp?
B: Tess approached me asking if I would co-choreograph with her and I accepted :)

T: Terp is the funnest. I choreographed “Zero to Hero” last spring with Becca Hutman (’17) and had too much fun—togas are a challenge to dance in. This semester I’m choreographing with beanie (who is a LITERAL rockstar), I’m in Stellar and Ari’s dance, and in Terp core.

3. What was the choreography process/preparation for the show like for you?
B: Incredibly fun. We decided because we have so many dancers to split them up into different animal groups, which is nice because each group has a different style of movement so it adds dynamics and variety. The birds are graceful, the zebras are sassy, the monkeys are silly and the elephants are strong. Other than that, it’s just been about making Disney cartoons come to life through movement- lots of jazz hands!

T: Our choreography is energetic, simple, and clean—we kind of approached it like a flash mob since we have so many dancers (40!) of such varied experience. Also Terp is strictly fun and zero pressure and we definitely stress that to our dancers.

4. What was your weirdest rehearsal moment?
B: The fact that I refer to our dancers as “the animal kingdom.”

T: I’m like usually weird in rehearsals soooooo…

5. Describe your dance in 10 words or fewer.
B: DISNEY MAGIC MOTHERFUCKERS!

T: Good old fashioned Disney magic

 

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 5.30.25 PMEriq Robinson ’15; Dance: “Sunflower” (Bjork)

1. What’s your previous dance experience (at Wes, and before)?
I’ve never danced at Wes and before that the most dance experience I’ve ever had were the two musicals I was in during high school.

2. Why’d you decide to be involved in Terp?
After a summer of working on my electronic music and after finally releasing my album, I wanted to take a break from composition but still have something to focus my creative energies in. I’ve been rolling around the idea of choreographing for a while but this year the timing just worked out great.

3. What was the choreography process/preparation for the show like for you?
There was a lot of listening to the music again and again in my room trying to figure out how I wanted my thoughts to come to fruition. Really, I just had to think about what type of aesthetic I was going for and try to move my mental state to movement which was its own adventure.

4. What was your weirdest rehearsal moment?
The weirdest rehearsal moment was definitely the whole first rehearsal. It wasn’t really weird as it was just awkward. We were all packed in to a small room in the PAC and we were all new to each other. That and the fact that I had even less of a grip on how to teach people dance moves made for a strange time.

5. Describe your dance in 10 words or fewer.
A sunflower is born and dies while Bjork sings lullabies.

6. Anything else you want to add?
If you haven’t experienced Terp, I highly suggest it! Especially if you don’t have too much dance experience like me. It’s a welcoming space that is great for experimentation and open to new things.

 

Rachel Leicher ’15; Dance:”Hard to Love” (Calvin Harris feat. Florence Welch and Ayah Marar)

1. What’s your previous dance experience (at Wes, and before)?
Mostly modern with a little bit of hip hop and jazz thrown in since age 9. Also gymnastics. This is my sixth Terp show and fourth time choreographing. I am also a bgirl in WesBreakers.

2. Why’d you decide to be involved in Terp?
Terp has been one of the most influential experiences for me at Wesleyan. It’s that burst of fun amongst the sophomore slump, mid semester workload, or anything else that’s got you down. It builds confidence and brings together everyone who loves to dance in an inclusive way. Also, I love performing.

3. What was the choreography process/preparation for the show like for you?
Usually I have an idea for Terp before I get to campus. This semester was different and I thought up this piece on the fly. Sometimes great things happen when you don’t over think them.

4. What was your weirdest rehearsal moment?
Surprisingly nothing, maybe the weirdest is yet to come.

5. Describe your dance in 10 words or fewer.
The most intense thigh workout of your life.

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Lili Kadets ’17 and Sonya Levine ’17; Dance: “Daylight” (Matt and Kim)

1. What’s your previous dance experience (at Wes, and before)?
Sonya: I have been dancing since I was 3, taking tap, jazz, hip-hop, modern and ballet through high school. I’m also a dance major and a member of Terp Core and Collective Motion.

Lili: I started dancing when I was 4 and I took ballet, tap, jazz and modern through high school as well! I participated in Terp last year. I’ve also had the chance to participate in Winter Dance for the past two years. We’ve revamped tap at Wes—we started WeShuffle this year, Wesleyan’s only tap collective!

2. Why’d you decide to be involved in Terp?
L+S: We were looking for an opportunity to showcase WeShuffle and we thought that Terp was the perfect space! Because the show is so diverse, we knew that we would fit right in. We now hope students will recognize our group.

3. What was the choreography process/preparation for the show like for you?
L+S: The choreography for this show is adapted from a piece Lili performed in high school. The piece is more in the rhythmic style of tap (which Lili is more familiar with) rather than Broadway (Sonya’s experience). Teaching the piece required a good amount of rehearsal time (especially because everyone comes from different tap backgrounds) but we all caught on very quickly. (We love our dancers for attending 11 AM Saturday rehearsals. You da best.) We really enjoyed the process!

4. What was your weirdest rehearsal moment?
S: Hmmmm… definitely when we video recorded our rehearsals and Lili was overly enthusiastic (as usual) and cheered a little too much. (The videos could be great blackmail.)

5) Describe your dance in 10 words or fewer.
L+S: Everyday we shufflin. In suspenders.

6) Anything else you want to add?
L+S: We are so thrilled that WeShuffle finally has the opportunity to perform — organizing the group has been a long process but we finally did it! Tap is such an integral part of our lives and we’re so happy that eleven other people share this sentiment. YAY.

 

Natalie Ancona ’15, Nicole Klein ’15, and Jacob Musinsky’15; Dance: “Helen” (Chase & Status, Antonio Vivaldi, Steve Aoki, The Wizard)
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1. What’s your previous dance experience (at Wes, and before)?
Jacob: We all studied technique at Juilliard for two years before transferring together to Wesleyan where we have been participating in Terpsichore Dance ever since.

2. Why’d you decide to be involved in terp?
J: We wanted to be involved in Terp because we like to dance and we LOVE attention.

3. What was the choreography process/preparation for the show like for you?
J: The choreography process consists of doing a lot improv exercises and exploring movements unfamiliar to the untrained dancer. We really put ourselves out there to examine all types of movement. It’s a technique we studied at Juilliard. It’s challenging, you know, because we want to stay true to our technical roots, but we are putting a piece together for untrained dancers, peasants really. We think we succeeded though, I mean, look what we did with Sam Wheeler ’15. The preparation for the show consists of many rehearsals filled with laughs, tears, sweat, reprimanding dancers via a timeout system (a technique we learned at Juilliard), and massaging our bunions.

4. What was your weirdest rehearsal moment?
J: Our weirdest rehearsal moment was this one time, oh it was really quite marvelous, when we performed only our facial expressions along with our music while maintaining serious eye contact with one another. This process allows for the dancers to remove the body from the mind in order to really inhabit our character, Helen. We studied this technique at Juilliard.

5. Describe your dance in 10 words or fewer.
J: Raunchy sex goddess has a night out on the town.

6. Anything else you want to add?
J: Shout out to our dancers who inspire us everyday. You are why!

 

Elena Rein ’15 and Nora Thompson ’15; Dance performed by Terp Core: “Change” (Churchill)

1. What’s your previous dance experience (at Wes, and before)?
Elena: I started “movement” classes when I was 3 and formal ballet training at 8. I have been doing jazz dance since 8 as well and then started modern in high school. I danced in two performance groups at dance studios in the Bay Area throughout high school and then came to Wes! Here I have been in Precision Ensemble since freshman year and Terp Core since sophomore year. Additionally, this is my second time participating in the Winter Dance Concert through the dance department and have taken multiple Ballet and Modern classes here as well.

Nora: I have danced since I was a small child, mostly just ballet until high school. In high school I focused on ballet but also did some modern and hip-hop. At Wesleyan I have taken classes in Modern, Ballet, West African, and Hip-Hop. I am a Dance Major and also a member and director of Precision Ensemble. I have danced and choreographed in both Terp and Precision since freshman year!

2. Why’d you decide to be involved in Terp?
E: I decided to get involved in Terp because I heard so much about it from dance people I knew through Precision. At that point the groups were made up of very similar people so I thought it would be natural for me to audition. It was only after I was accepted that I learned how amazing Terp was!

N: I started being part of Terp in my freshman year, both in dances and in core. When I auditioned for core I had no idea what it was, but I was auditioning for everything. Terp seemed fun, and once I realized core danced and organized, I was pumped! I have loved being a part of Terp as a whole and core every semester since (except when I was abroad). I think Terp represents Wesleyan’s unique environment of experimentation with unequivocal support, but in a dance setting—so organizing it, although at times difficult, is always worth it.

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3. What was the choreography process/preparation for the show like for you?

E: This was only the second time I had ever choreographed so I really looked to Nora for guidance. We ended up choosing a song together and then booking rehearsal space and just playing around. Together we choreographed the chorus section that repeats a bunch of times and after that I felt like I had a much better handle on the process. Most of the actual choreographing was really just listening to the song over and over and seeing what my body naturally wanted to do. We put some thought into formations and then it was done!

N: When I choreographed a big dance there was a lot of scheduling of rehearsals to be done. When choreographing terp core this semester it was more about being efficient with time and choreographing that’s fun to dance and fun to watch, with a catchy song. Prepping for the show in core means assigning jobs (like organizing terp admin dinners, dealing with DVDs, handling financials, setting up tech week, assisting choreographers, etc.) and making sure the show comes together in time!

4. What was your weirdest rehearsal moment?
E: I really loved when Nora and I videotaped our progress at the end of choreographing rehearsals. Especially towards the beginning of the process we had maybe 1/3 of the dance choreographed but videotaped for the duration of the song so there are lots of moments where we are both flapping around like birds and making weird noises… those will never leave my computer.

N: Elena and I choreographed this piece together and found out we do a lot of the same movements and use a lot of the same words to describe them. In one rehearsal Elena used the verb “sneak” for almost every move we did.

5. Describe your dance in 10 words or fewer.
E: You want me to change but helllll no.

N: They want us to change but we won’t.

6. Anything else you want to add?
E: Terp is such an amazing organization here at Wesleyan. It is an opportunity for those who classify themselves as “non-dancers” to enjoy both the process and performance aspects of dance and creates a really positive community. Everyone is there for the sole goal of having fun and putting on a show that the audience will enjoy. It is one of my absolute favorite things about Wes and I feel honored to have a organizing role.

 

Maddy Junkins ’16 and Lisa Kremen ’16; “Bang Bang” (Jessie J, Ariane Grande, Nicki Minaj)

1. What’s your previous dance experience (at Wes, and before)?

Maddy: We both danced ballet, hip hop, and contemporary in high school, and we danced in Terp every semester that we’ve been at Wes! This will be our fifth time dancing and our second time choreographing.

2. Why’d you decide to be involved in Terp?

M: We both wanted to dance at Wes, and Terp seemed perfect because it’s such a diverse and inclusive environment, and so focused on the fun of dancing which is THE MOST IMPORTANT PART!!!!!!!!!!!!!

3. What was the choreography process/preparation for the show like for you?

M: Easy because we did it last year and we are also soulmates so it just kind of came together.

4. What was your weirdest rehearsal moment?

M: One of our dancers cried under a chair, and also one time there was a birthing scene…maybe you had to be there.

5. Describe your dance in 10 words or fewer.

M: Flannel. Ariana Grande. Demons. High ponytails. Coming-of-age. Masterpiece.

6. Anything else you want to add?

M: Everyone should do Terp at least once before they graduate…it’s one of the best communities of people at Wes.

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