Dean College dance student doing a leap on stage

The curtain opens tonight for the final production of the fall semester! “Faculty Dance Works” features outstanding works conceived by the Joan Phelps Palladino School of Dance faculty and renowned guest artists, and performed by Dean College Dance students.

Todd Shanks, program coordinator and assistant professor of Dance, is choreographing a tap piece entitled “tap shorts” to give the audience a look inside the rehearsal process.

“Often when I choreograph a tap piece, I will play the music and attempt a phrase of movement; the dancers will then respond with a similar rhythm (call and response),” Shanks explained. “Sometimes they get the step correct, but that isn't as important as the rhythm or feel. Throughout this piece, the dancers move from choreographed set movement to a more freestyle approach, moving throughout the stage and connecting with each other. The overall feel is that of a jam session in music. Our rehearsal process has been experimental, and my cast has truly helped shape the work.”

The theme of process is reflected in the entire production of “Faculty Dance Works,” which is a chance for faculty to present new choreographic works, works in progress or revisit a piece with a new or revised cast.

“It is always fun for people to see process,” he said. “Dance and live performances are never complete. To give the audience access to our works in progress gives the audience an understanding that dance is truly fluid. This piece will likely never be finished, each cast will bring new life to it and guest appearances can always happen!”

Just as “tap shorts” will evolve from performance to performance, so too does the entire production of “Faculty Dance Works” from year to year.

“I think the show evolves with new faculty, new dancers, and new ideas every year,” said Shanks. “The show will always unique. That's the beauty of live performance; you can never have that moment with that cast, that audience, the stage, the music, the costumes, ever again. It only happens once!”  

Faculty Dance Works will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, December 9 and Saturday, December 10, 2022, in the Main Stage in the Dr. Paula M. Rooney Student Center at Dean College, 109 West Central Street, Franklin, MA. To learn more about the performance and to purchase tickets, visit the Dean College Box Office.