Butler Dance Professor Marek Cholewa took five Butler Ballet students to Bratislava, Slovakia, November 19-24 to participate in the “International Concert of Dance Schools,” a celebration of the 35th anniversary of the prestigious Dance Conservatory of Eva Jacz.
Butler students Ricardo Dyer, Eileen Frazer, Marie Harrison, Taylor Nash, and Renee Roberts, who were selected through an audition process, performed on a program that includes conservatories from Berlin, Budapest, London, and Vienna, as well as professionals from around Europe.
Each group was only onstage for five minutes, but Cholewa said the 4,763-mile trip was worthwhile for the students and the Butler Ballet program.
“There’s a certain level of PR for us presenting our school among the best schools,” he said. “We will be seen by many very well-known choreographers and teachers. It is a very important opportunity for the dancers. Since we will be bringing three seniors who will be looking for jobs in the near future, there will be a chance for them to network on a global level, which doesn’t happen that often for dancers from the United States.”
Cholewa said when dancers are auditioning for a company or in the audition process, they typically can only demonstrate their technical skills.
“Granted, that is a necessary stage in the process,” he said. “However, the artistry and beauty of the dancer that is garnered from a choreographic piece cannot be demonstrated that way. The totality of a dancer cannot be ascertained through just the means of an technical audition.”
The invitation to perform in Slovakia came after Cholewa had taken a group of 36 students to Europe in May. One of the stops was Bratislava, where the Butler group worked with the Eva Jacz conservatory.
The piece they performed at the November 21 event is called “Displacements.” Cholewa, who choreographed the dance to an original score written by Butler Dance Department Chair Larry Attaway, describes the choreography as a contemporary new work that tells the story of a group of people who attempt to drift from one another as a way to create change within their own lives. But they also have to acknowledge that this is not possible and soon realize that the attraction that bonds them is inseparable and cannot be undone.
Attaway said the trip was an incredible opportunity for the Butler dance program to be seen on a truly global stage.
“We are so honored to be included in this extraordinary group of dance schools,” he said, “and we are so proud to present this quintet of performers as international ambassadors representing dance in the United States.”