Texas Tech University

Starting from Scratch

Shawn Ward

November 5, 2019

World-famous dancer Gene Kelly once said that "You dance love, and you dance joy, and you dance dreams."

This statement could not be truer for Texas Tech seniors Rachel Greim and Karson Hood, two of the eight student choreographers who have been working diligently to create this year's Fall Dance Festival. In this entirely student-produced concert, dance seniors build a show from the ground up, including music, choreography, costumes, lighting, and other technical elements.

Rachel Greim"What sets the pace for this whole process is that we have to submit our proposals on the first day [of class]," says Greim. "That's one of the biggest time consumers: figuring out what you want your dance to be about and then forming your intention into movement."

The tight schedule forces the choreographers to put their thoughts into perspective at a faster rate than they might have been required to do in their past work.

"You really have to go into it knowing what you're doing and sticking to your intuition," says Hood. "It makes you adjust your process and figure out what's really important. You have to face your personal issues head on, because you don't have time to dance around them--no pun intended."

One of the main focuses of the concert is to provide dance students the opportunity to gain experience behind the scenes. They work closely with designers to make their visions a reality. For performances, the seniors take on most technical aspects of the production, including stage management, light and soundboard operation, and acting as running crew.

"It teaches us what we need to say to designers and technicians," says Greim. "We get the experience of what's needed for the final product. It gives me more respect for those who bridge the gap between dreams and reality."

Serving as a choreographer in the Fall Dance Festival is something that Hood has looked forward to for years.

"You find yourself as a small piece in the beginning and each year you take on more," says Hood. "By the time you're in the driver's seat you have to choreograph, choose dances, and make all the major decisions. At the same time, you're also having to work the differences between being in a role of authority and working with your peers."

Greim, a double major in Dance and Public Relations, knew from a young age that she wanted to be a dancer. Her work in her high school drill team was the first step on her journey to Texas Tech.

"The drill team director was a graduate of the program here at Tech," says Greim. "Once I saw her dance and how she appreciated her art, I had to see what this program was about. She danced in a way I had never seen before because it was almost a mesh of the different genres. The minute I stepped on campus, I knew that I had to be here. My very first class was a huge wake-up call. Before college, I only experienced the classical genres (ballet and jazz). I always struggled with being a classical dancer and being 5'8, but here I figured out how to move my body in a unique way and found more interesting ways to move through the space. This program has built me into the dancer that I am today. That's all I want to do with my life."

Karson HoodHood's journey to the dance program took a different path. Although he had some dance experience through high school musical theatre and cheer, he had never taken a true dance class before he arrived at Texas Tech.

"I was scared to do [dance] because of my lack of background, but something clicked and I really enjoyed it," says Hood. "At first I took dance as a minor and then became an Interdisciplinary Arts Studies major focusing in theatre and dance. Now that I'm here, choreography is something that I love maybe more than actually dancing. It's been an awesome experience. I really enjoy this program."

Overall, the aim of the festival is to show seniors the various career paths they can take after graduation.

"This is the first time that we're getting to do everything from start to finish," Hood says. "It's a lot, but it really prepares you for the possibilities after school. You're not guaranteed opportunities out in the world, but here you get all of this: the stage, the equipment, and we get to take advantage of it."

Fall Dance Festival will run November 6-9 in the Creative Movement Studio.