Professional Studies and Fine Arts

Professional Studies and Fine Arts

University Dance Company Performs New Faculty Choreography

Dancers invite the audience to free themselves from narrative and focus on the experience.

University Dance Company Performs New Faculty Choreography

By Elizabeth Allison

SDSU School of Music and Dance presents the University Dance Company performing Friday, March 2 at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, March 3, and Sunday, March 4 at 2:00 p.m., in the Dance Studio Theater (ENS-200).

The University Dance Company is a celebrated pre-professional company that has been invited to perform at the American College Dance Festival this spring. This dance performance highlights work choreographed by faculty.

Finding Inspiration in Movement

The University Dance Company is comprised seven B.A. and B.F.A. dancers. The students worked through the Fall 2017 semester as two separate casts, each with their own faculty member choreographing and advising them. When the two groups came together, they created a third section that overlapped their individual pieces.

SDSU Dance professor Jess Humphrey choreographed to David Lang’s “Just,” then replaced the original music with opera by Giuseppe Verdi. “By placing something next to what it wasn’t intended to placed next to, the music really has a role in shaping the performance,” said Humphrey.

“I was interested in finding a balance between too little and too much,” said Dance professor Leslie Seiters, who found inspiration for her section of the performance in the concept of repetition. “When something is repeated over and over, the audience will have the chance to see different variations in movement, as well as different pairings of dancers.”

While some movements may be unfamiliar, the choreographers have kept the audience in mind. “The experience of the performance makes the experimental more accessible,” says Jess Humphrey. “It cannot be categorized, but it is focused on humanness, and for that reason it is relatable.”

The University Dance Company avoids being categorized as one particular genre of dance. The music ranges from psychedelic rock to opera and folk music, as well as having the dancers themselves sing while performing. The goal is to expand the number of possible interpretations as much as possible.

“Let go of trying to get any one meaning from the performance,” suggests Jess Humphrey. “We invite the audience to open their minds and give themselves the freedom to focus on the experience, rather than the detecting one narrative story.”

Dance at San Diego State University

The Division of Dance at SDSU focuses on choreography that ranges from recognizable classical dance movement to functional pedestrian movement in order to find the artistic fullest of range of human expression through dance.

Leslie Seiters and Jess Humphrey recognize that as a research institution, SDSU has an opportunity to contribute to the conversation of what dance can reveal about a political, social, or cultural moment. The Division of Dance encourages students and faculty to continuously ask what dance is, and what its function is within a cultural context.

Performing with the University Dance Company prepares dance students for professional work after graduation. “The faculty has such high expectations for performers that it is a privilege to work at this pre-professional level,” said senior Dance major Zach King. “If you don’t step up, you are letting down the process, and in that way, SDSU has prepared me not just to be a participant in the professional world, but to be an artistic collaborator.”


Tickets are $20 general/$15 seniors & military/$10 students and may be purchased at

The content within this article has been edited by Lizbeth Persons.

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