Spotlight on the student choreographers of LMU Dance | LIFE+ARTS

From hip-hop numbers to contemporary performances to experimental dance films, the LMU Dance Spring Concert had it all. The concert featured three student-directed dance films, 10 student-choreographed dances, and a piece performed by guest choreographer, Stephanie Liapis. All of these pieces explore different dance styles, music genres and storylines.


Many LMU dance students have spent countless hours perfecting their routines for the concert. The Life+Arts section features five dances and their choreographers.

to walk

“Walk(wo)man” was a dance performed by Kennedy Schuelke, a double major in dance and health and humanities, and Eve Robinson, a dance major. The dance itself was rather experimental. All the dancers wore monochromatic outfits to a rhythmic voiceover.

“Our dance is about celebrating individuality among like-minded people and showcasing what makes us all unique. We are all individuals and we can all have common interests, but still be different from each other,” said Schuelke said.

The two had been working on this dance since the beginning of 2020 and this was their first opportunity to perform it.

“It’s definitely a looping moment because we were ready to play it after spring break. [of] our second year and it’s finally our chance to do it. It’s been fun to remember and tweak it a bit. Overall, we just wanted to do a happy dance and make the audience feel a sense of fun and humor,” Robinson said.


“sound & color” was choreographed by Emily Hillebrandt, a junior dance major in English. This dance represented the different senses and thoughts that affect people on a daily basis.

“My inspiration behind creating it was the emotions and reactions to the different stimuli you encounter throughout your day. Sometimes different people and different circumstances throughout your day can affect how you feel, whether it’s happy or angry. It sort of concentrates the different layers of emotions that people feel,” Hillebrandt said.

By creating this dance, Hillebrandt not only bonded with her cast, but also got to see how they performed her own choreography and found it very rewarding.

“Finishing the dance was the hardest part. I think the endings are always the hardest part to figure out because you kind of have to wrap things up both thematically and visually. I went through four different endings, but that made it so much more satisfying,” Hillebrandt said.

“-present” by Madeline Sharp, a dance and psychology student, is part of her graduation thesis which focuses on her ancestral history, the Armenian Genocide and her personal identity.

“To sum up my article, we talked about the differences between documents and monuments. For me, a document is a piece of history that is not alive whereas a monument is a story that you can still see and experience. I wanted this dance to be a monument and rooted in personal stories of Armenians who were affected by the Armenian Genocide,” Sharp said.

“At first, I wanted the play to really focus on Armenian history. But as I continued to work on it and think about what I wanted audiences to take away from it, it became much more about personal identity and how individual experiences affect [it].”

Sharp was pleased with the outcome of her choreography, especially with a larger ensemble.

“I don’t want to set the world on fire” is a solo performance choreographed and danced by junior dance student Emily Keller. As soon as Keller heard The Ink Spots song “I Don’t Wanna Set The World On Fire,” she knew she had to create a dance.

“I think there’s a really interesting interplay between the lyrics and the tone of the song. The lyrics feel honest and true, but the music has a darker tone, so the lyrics are more obsessive than honest. My dance is kind of centered around this character who is more obsessed and passionate and thinks it’s love,” Keller said. “Initially, I felt this character was not human and only felt these emotions obsessive and driving, but now I understand that we all have those kind of moments where we’re that character.”

Since this piece was a solo, Keller relayed the difficulties of working alone for long periods.

“Having to do the dance, understanding what it’s like to do it and giving me reviews about it, it felt like I was playing all the roles that go into the dance. But it was so individual and personal that it all worked out. It taught me a lot about myself,” Keller said.

“Trapped in a Dream” is a dance film directed by Isaiah Kim, a senior dance student, who came up with the idea for his film during winter break. The idea behind this film was to recreate the emotions that surrounded quarantine and 2020 in general.

“I felt like I needed to express that because all those emotions were kind of bottled up. I made a movie because it’s more impactful to me because it’s more permanent. I filmed , danced and edited the whole thing, and it turns out that filming the dance myself is a lot harder than I thought. I wanted it to be really interesting and engaging. It forced me to come up with some weird DIY ideas for the planning process,” Kim said.

Kim is particularly proud of his film because it is the culmination of everything he has learned over the past two years learning to film and edit in quarantine. He explained that the main focus of his piece is the movement itself, not the video.

All of these choreographers put so much thought, effort and time into all of their pieces to create an overall visually pleasing and impactful show.

About Monty S. Maynard

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