Dance company proves March isn’t just for hoops

March is not just for hoops. While the Cardinal basketball teams participated in the NCAA and NIT tournaments, another team of Stanford stars took the floor. The Stanford dancers went to the American College Regional Conference this month to perform Twilight Composite – and it was selected as the strongest work at the conference. In March Madness terms, the dancers won their bracket.

The team of seven has been invited to perform with other elite dancers representing the best choreography and performance in the nation at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., in May. “We are planning to go – how is not yet certain – but to be so recognized by the dance field within a national forum is a huge signal honor in and of itself,” Twilight Composite choreographer and Stanford dance faculty member DIANE FRANK said about the Kennedy Center honor.

Twilight Composite was evaluated in relation to dozens of other adjudicated works at the regional conference, most from fully accredited degree-granting undergraduate/graduate dance departments. The adjudicators were unreservedly positive in their analysis and comments, starting with “an exemplar of choreography” and proceeding to “classical restraint” and “clarity of intent and beautiful dancing.”

At Stanford, students can declare a drama minor with a concentration in dance but their commitment to dance is not degree-driven. “The dancers’ intellectual appetite informs their studio practice, making it possible to do choreographically sophisticated and nuanced work,” Frank said of her students. Five members of the cast intend to pursue dance careers after graduation.

With regard to the regional conference and the invitation to the Kennedy Center, Frank said, “It is absolutely great for our dancers to know that they are working at a level of accomplishment which the professional dance field sees as worthy of national attention. The same intellectual energy that drives creativity in other university research drives the work in dance.”

The Stanford dancers are GARY CHAMPI, CC CHIU, KATHERINE DISENHOF, TESSALY JEN, MINDY PHUNG, JULIA NEIDERT and SANJAY SAVERIMUTTU. Collaborative interdepartmental participation came from DOHI MOON, affiliated with the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics, who composed the music; and MELISSA DEMERS, an undergraduate in drama working with Professor MICHAEL RAMSAUR, who designed the lighting.

BY ROBIN WANDER