Expect the unexpected at this fall’s Open Space, a dance production featuring brand-new works created, choreographed and performed by CU Boulder students. A tantalizing mix of pieces, which could involve anything from tap to tribal fusion, will be on display for three different showings from Nov. 11 to 13 in CU’s Charlotte York Irey Theatre.
Each year at this student-produced and CU Dance Connection-curated series, dance works span a spectrum of styles, inviting and challenging viewers with exciting experimentations.
“The great thing about Open Space is that it’s truly an open space,” says junior BFA candidate Kaitlyn Lawrence, a co-stage manager for the show. “Performers do go through an adjudication process, but they’re free to submit anything they want. Last year, there was a lecture and dance demonstration about chickens and feminism, and it was incredible.”
What Lawrence appreciates most about Open Space is something she also appreciates about CU Boulder’s dance division as a whole: it delves into the origins, cultural meanings and complexities of dance.
“At the first performance I attended here as a freshman, there was a finger tutter and a piece performed over Skype,” she says. “I came from a very competitive dance background, and it was so different to see something that had a message and wasn’t just dance for dance’s sake.”
Gabrielle Whitcomb, a senior dance BFA candidate, could not’t agree more. Last year, Whitcomb choreographed a piece for Open Space called “Dimensions Unseen,” where she ruminated on the way we all perceive the passage of time differently. This year, she’s a stage manager and oversees artistic direction.
Whitcomb says audiences should expect an unusually wide variety of dance styles represented at this year’s Open Space, from modern dance and improvisational work to tap and tribal fusion. More than one of the pieces in adjudication focuses on gender identity.
“We live in a society that’s changing and growing, and our ideas of gender norms are turning gray very quickly,” Whitcomb says. “When it comes to movement, if you’re a female dancer, you’re thinking a lot about how you can go against the gender norms that are put on you by society.”
The freedom to explore a diverse set of topics—and to question diversity entirely—is a major reason both Lawrence and Whitcomb chose to attend CU.
“I really appreciate how diverse the dance division is and how much value they place on teaching us the history of where each dance form comes from,” Whitcomb says. “It’s also incredible, as a student, to have a lot of voice in what I want to learn.”
Lawrence adds, “I think our department is great because it’s super versatile. You can come in with any background and be welcome.”