Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Moulin Rouge meets Tim Burton: A Look at Orchesis Dance Motif

Orchasis Dancers at the U of A

In late September, I was amongst a large group of dancers who gathered in the Van Vliet building and eagerly listened to choreographers share their vision for the Orchesis Dance Group's 2014 Dance Motif show. Andrea Fitzgerald, a first time choreographer, pitched a piece that was inspired by "the time, the costumes, emotion and the women of the Moulin Rouge." Andrea explained that "the popular movie focuses on the Bohemian ideals of beauty, freedom, truth and love," and she hoped to represent these ideals on the stage. As a fourth year motif performer, Andrea has always had a passion for dance and the fine arts, and she decided that this would be the perfect  time to make the leap into choreography. 

Dance Motif - Getting in Line

Interested in her idea, I, along with nine other dancers, signed up to perform in Andrea's dance. Rehearsals began almost immediately, and the piece began to develop. At the beginning of the semester, our group felt like a mix-match of dancers, because everybody came from different backgrounds and levels. Orchesis is a community of performers of all different levels, and Andrea has striven to create professional looking pieces that cater to the abilities of all of the dancers in their group. 

Dancers prepare at UAlberta

"I feel like I have definitely grown as a dancer and as a creative mind” Andrea told me during one of our rehearsals. “I came into this with a very specific picture in my mind of what I wanted, and as time went on, I learned to adapt my thoughts and creativity into something that [better] suited [our team while expanding] on the one idea I originally had."

Orchasis Dance Team Prepares
Andrea and her dancers prepare for practice.

Andrea describes Orchesis as "more than just a dance group," and when the time comes to rally our team, she reminds us that, "we are a community of dancers of all levels, who have a passion for dance and performing, and have an incredible amount of support for each other. We all step up and help each other when needed, and are always pushing for the other dancers, our friends and instructors to succeed." This certainly rings true in our little group, as each person truly cares about the progress of the piece, and their fellow dancers. More experienced dancers can often be found helping others with technique, and whenever a dancer is unsure about a new section of choreography, someone is there to help them out. 

Orchasis Dancer

As the show approaches, Andrea, and our whole group of dancers, are very excited. Andrea, who has enjoyed watching her vision and our group develop, now describes her dance as "Moulin Rouge meets Tim Burton". She says that, "The most rewarding part of the job by far is challenging my dancers and seeing the final piece... It is such an amazing thing to see my ideas and movement come together and have my dancers completely commit themselves and do such an amazing job. I am an emotional person, and I am so proud of my dancers and the piece. I think I might cry!" 

Fierce Dancers at UAlberta

Andrea’s piece, and many other dances, will be featured in Orchesis Dance Group's Dance Motif 2014 show, on January 24 and 25th, at the Myer Horowitz theatre. Tickets are available at the Activity Registration Zone!

Did you know?

Orchesis Dance Group is one of the Univeristy's oldest groups? It was founded in 1964, and will be celebrating its 50th year during the 2014-2015 school year! 


About the Author

My name is Erin and I’m going into my eighth, and final, year at the University of Alberta. When I grow up, I want to be a fairy princess… but since the U of A doesn’t offer that program, I am working on completing my Bachelor of Elementary Education.

I can usually be found consuming excessive amounts of caffeine in the library, volunteering with my sorority sisters, or hitting up the latest campus events.

What I love most about the U of A is how different the experience is for everyone, and how many experiences each student can have. I hope to share my stories and yours, so that together we can discover what this amazing campus has to offer!


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