Self-starting student translates emotions to dance

by Jeff Samoray, Published March 08, 2012


Senior dance major Cate Brown

For 60 years, EMU's Concert of Dance has been a showcase for works choreographed by faculty members and prominent guest artists. This year, for the first time, students also performed a piece choreographed by one of their peers.

Senior dance major Cate Brown arranged the work, titled "There Are No Victims, Only Volunteers." It made its debut during the annual concert, held January 20-22 at Quirk Theatre.

"I started working on the piece in July," says Brown, who also choreographs works after class at a dance studio in Ann Arbor. "I chose six female dancers who I've worked with before. I wanted a similar look among them as they danced, and they picked up the different movements very quickly. We rehearsed for two hours each week since August. All the dancers were fabulous-I saw their strength and determination grow week to week."

Brown says the piece is partly about the pain that sometimes accompanies relationships. It features subtle hand and finger movements as well as traditional lifts and other moves drawn from contemporary dance and ballet. The accompanying music is by the electronic group múm and composer Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson-both are from Iceland.

EMU dance faculty selected the work for submission to the adjudicated portion of the American College Dance Festival, which takes place in April at Grand Valley State University. Brown also asked the dance faculty if it could be included in the Concert of Dance.

"I was thrilled when they accepted the idea," Brown says. "To me, it's important to present a student piece so we can showcase what EMU dance is all about. There's so much great dance going here-I hope my work sets a precedent for including a student piece each year."

Associate Professor of Dance Sherry Jerome-Wilkinson says the faculty chose to include Brown's work partly because of her personal investment in her craft.

"Cate is a very mature, hard-working and intelligent student," Jerome-Wilkinson says. "She began working on her choreography well before school began in September. What type of student comes in on her own time, begins work on an assignment early and works this diligently on it? That alone is quite impressive.

"All of the dance faculty enjoy teaching and working with Cate. I see her going far in the dance world. EMU is a stepping stone for her in her dance career."

Brown says she wants to continue dancing after graduating and pursue a MFA in choreography.

"I've had some fabulous dance teachers and I try to emulate them," she says. "I don't have the greatest technique, but I love emoting as I move. Through dance, you develop discipline and a self-starting nature. I hope to share that with younger girls as a teacher."

Visit EMU's Department of Music and Dance website for more information about degree programs and student performances.

Geoff Larcom


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