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Sacramento State’s Dance House Rocks

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The ability to artistically create dance choreography that moves and energizes people is something that Sacramento State’s Department of Theatre and Dance knows how to do well. The sold-out show on Wednesday, Nov. 15, at 6:30 p.m., indicated that the student-choreographed “Dance House” is definitely a must-see event — that is, if you can get a ticket.

The small theater provides for an intimate evening, but it also creates a problem getting a seat. The best advice is to “Get your tickets early,” says Philip Flickinger, dance professor at Sacramento State.

“These students are talented,” says Flickinger. “They provide concertgoers with a chance to experience the wide world of dance … there is a lot going on out there, but this show has relatable pieces for any audience member to connect to. We strive to bring the personal experiences of our students into entertaining dances for the audience.”

Producing a show like “Dance House” takes a combined effort. Some of the dance students are required to volunteer to work on the technical side of the program, which includes lights and music engineering. Leanne Ruiz, Diego Campos and Jacob Anderson, who are all dance majors at Sac State, have learned firsthand what it takes to put on a show like this.

“I like working on the technical side of things,” says Anderson. “I feel like it helps me to understand the whole production process. That way, I know what both sides are doing.”

One of the sound engineers for “Dance House,” Ruiz said, “I love being involved in every way. I eventually want to move to LA, where I would like to pursue a dance career.”

And Campos, who plans on getting his master’s degree in choreography at Sac State, and who sits next to Ruiz at the mixing board for the production, nods his head. “I really like the training I’m getting at Sac State. I feel like it is going to help me in my career also.”

The audience, a mix of students and parents, seemed excited to watch the evening’s dance performances. “You just have to receive it,” says Emily Vang, a 19-year-old social sciences major. “Dance is a powerful way of expression, and it’s how I like to express myself … I’m here because I have to write a paper about this, but I’m also here to see my friends (in the production).”

The motivation for going to the performance may have been out of need, but some were also curious. Shannon Chris, a 26-year-old biology major, said, “I’m really hyped to see the performance and the messages that they (the choreographers) will convey.”

The message, although open to interpretation, was somewhat clarified at the end of the show, when the choreographers held a Q-and-A session. They took 30 minutes or so to explain their motivations for choosing the music and movements of the dancers.

The central theme of each choreographer hit on their own personal experience with pain, sadness, overcoming obstacles and coming of age. They conveyed this feeling with a combination of music that they love, to dance that they dreamed.

Nichole Matthews, a dance major and choreographer, told the story of a book she read over the summer, which gave her the vision for her piece. “I tend to be very emotional about everything,” Matthews said. “My piece was about gritting through personal struggles and pain, so that in the end you don’t give up.”

“Dance House” play both Friday and Saturday, Nov. 16-17, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 18, at 2 p.m. Seats are limited and they tend to sell out. For additional information, you can go on the Web and click http://www.csus.edu/dram/.

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