The Norman Transcript

April 28, 2012

Four ‘Degrees of

By Johnnie-Margaret McConnell
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — University of Oklahoma School of Dance graduate students will show the world what they’ve got this Saturday.

Four students will present their original choreography during the fourth annual Degrees of Rotation.

The performance will feature ballet, modern and contemporary dance choreographed by students Cheyla Clawson, Charlotte Hart, Kilmyn Graf and Alexandra Niemeyer.

Niemeyer said the annual program is not a degree requirement but an initiative among graduate students to learn how to produce dance performances.

“We have just a great interest in learning ins and outs of producing a show,” she said. “This just provides us another way of learning.”

Niemeyer’s work is a collaborative project with OU School of Music student Michael Fitch.

“This is my first time collaborating with a student from the School of Music,” Niemeyer said. “We have worked closely on the collaboration from the beginning. There are so many different ways to develop choreography. Sometimes you start with the music first and sometimes with the choreography.”

Niemeyer said Fitch would e-mail her a section of music at a time, and she would choreograph as she received the music.

Fitch said this is standard practice in composition.

“This was born of numerous discussions regarding the process of composition as I see it and what we both wanted from the piece,” Fitch said of how the music was developed.

Fitch said the piece is titled “Femme d’hiver” and is a quintet for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano.

“Stylistically the piece is atonal, however in an aesthetic sense I attempted to find something traditionally ‘beautiful’ within the generally harsh sound of atonal music,” he said. “Beyond that I sought to write something with a natural fluidity that would compliment the choreography that I had previously seen from Alex.”

Degrees of Rotation also features collaboration with OU drama lighting designers Adam Honore and Emily Maddox.

“I will add that collaboration has been a unique and rewarding experience,” Fitch said. “Oftentimes in the arts we isolate ourselves within our respective fields … but rarely do we seek each other out for shared artistic experiences.”

Niemeyer said OU’s Reynolds Performing Arts Center creates an intimate performance venue that encourages greater connections between audience members and performers.

Degrees of Rotation is under the guidance of Mary Margaret Holt, School of Dance director.

Niemeyer said Holt supports and oversees all aspects of the annual graduate program.

“She plays a really important hand in the entire program and is very involved in providing feedback with choreography,” she said.