Texas Tech University

The Sensation of Movement

Elizabeth Holt

February 19, 2024

Jamy Meek and Melissa Brading

Spring semester is here and so is our annual showcase, DanceTech! From February 22-24, audience members will experience this captivating, diverse array of original choreography. DanceTech features works from B.F.A student Emma Hale, guest artist Jamy Meek, and other pieces created by our dance faculty.

We want to share some of the behind-the-scenes inspiration for two of these dances to give you a taste of what you'll see on stage.

Jamy Meek is not only a choreographer, but a dancer and educator. Though he has worked with students across the country, he began as a dancer here in Lubbock and enjoys maintaining and furthering connections made at Ballet Lubbock, where he got his start. In the fall, he brought his creativity and vast experience into our classrooms to craft a piece completely unique for this showcase. While Jamy had a purposeful starting place for this work, he made sure to leave room for engaging students in a thoroughly collaborative process. Students enjoyed his open mind and willingness to include some movements and shapes of their own in the piece.

As Meek explains, “I asked students to do what they knew, and go with what they felt compelled to do,” which was necessary because of students' limited availability but enthusiastic desire to participate.

As he taught, several students also benefitted from his hands-on approach.

“He pushed me to be better and to try new ways of moving," describes dancer Melissa Casillas. "When I had trouble with a section, he had me try it in different ways including pushing a door, and eventually him, so that I knew what the sensation of the movement would be. He was great at explaining what he wanted and at the same time was open to exploration.”

Meek-DTAs an artist, he values sincerity in performance, always privileging the performer's freedom to explore within the framework he creates: “At its heart, my process is an exchange of energy. I have ideas or movement that I start with, but it's not until I share the space with the dancers that anything will actually materialize.” He encourages students to engage with their own creative intuitions and as a result, the dancers performing in this piece are all in motion from various levels of expressive freedom. 

Jamy hopes that his piece inspires the audience to ponder their individual reactions to the show, noting their own specific feelings as spectator, challenging them to find meaning. Students, then, who brought their own ideas into rehearsal, “owned” their contributions to the process, while informing the product.

Brading DTAnother of the pieces featured in DanceTech was originally created collaboratively five years ago by faculty member Melissa Brading and dancer Elisa Schreiber, inspired by a literary text. This year the piece was reworked and customized both structurally and audibly for DanceTech. Brading added original music by composer Loren Kiyoshi—based on videos of movement sent to the composer as a prompt (more or less volleying back and forth). Students Emma Hale and Hannah Coburn worked with Melissa section by section creating their characters based on their personal connection with the literary text's central themes and words.

“This piece was a very new concept for me," Coburn explains, "and it has changed me as an artist for the better. With help from Professor Brading and my duet partner Emma Hale, I found a new sense of confidence in the modern genre, my stage presence, and the art form in general.”  

Brading does not want to share the piece itself that inspires the work to avoid directing the audience's perspective, but she does admit that the piece is centered on “autonomy and what your own destiny looks like, and how we often don't reach our goals unscathed.”

The performer's conceptual experiences revolve around perseverance, unexpected obstacles, and what it means to lose pieces of oneself to become more whole in the pursuit of fate and the quest for self-identity. While these themes inspired the piece, Melissa loves it when audience members recognize themselves in her work, leaving with ideas she may not have considered.  She hopes that this dance creates a world onstage that is both strange and familiar, in which the audience can see humanity and virtuosity through movement.

These two fascinating pieces are only a fraction of the immense diversity of artistry represented this year at DanceTech. This is a show you won't want to miss!

DanceTech 2024 runs February 22-24 in the Charles E. Maedgen, Jr. Theatre.  Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the box office at (806) 742-3603.