The Carletonian: 2011 Fall Issue 8 (November 4, 2011)
Semaphore to make its Weitz debut
November 4, 2011 | By Molly Work
Fans of dance, sitting and everything in between will be thrilled to attend the Semaphore Repertory Company’s fall performance, Nov. 4 and 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the Weitz Center.
Semaphore, the auditioned based pre-professional modern dance company at Carleton, is led by faculty directors Judith Howard and Jane Shockley and student directors Emily Ban ’12 and Elise Erickson ’12.
As student director, Ban recognizes that “it is essential that [Semaphore] moves together and is comfortable with each other.”
The community of dancers rehearses 10 hours a week to produce “high standard, high quality work,” Howard said. This work is annually taken to the American College Dance Festival and performed before a panel of judges.
Dancing as a cohesive unit is challenging, especially when the dancers are exposed to new styles thanks to their work with professional choreographers. Nevertheless, Deborah Tan ’13, an intended dance major and member of Semaphore, said “there is something about respecting a choreographer’s movement that really pushes you to get it right.”
This diligence and attention to detail characterizes the entire company because, first and foremost, Semaphore members respect dance as an art form. Most extraordinary about the performance is the many ways dance speaks to each person individually.
“I love dance because it is another way to express myself; it makes me feel healthy and helps me to focus,” said Ban. A French and Dance special major, she is “interested in how people communicate,” which drew her to language and dance.
Howard said she “can understand things through moving the body that [she] can’t understand in other ways. It’s a way of understanding the world.”
A love of dance unifies Semaphore, although not all members are life-long dancers. According to Ban, “most people in Semaphore have had significant dance training, but every year we take a few people who have had little experience but just fell in love with dance when they came to Carleton.”
Members throughout the years have been trained in Irish step, Chinese, ballet, tap, modern, hip hop and more.
“It’s so beautiful that we can all move so differently, but together,” Ban said.
A dance major is not required for Semaphore. However, the major is alluring to those who love dance, especially those interested in choreographing. Ban and Erickson are both senior dance majors.
Ban decided to pursue a dance major while in Mali.
“I realized dance has a really big impact on me,” she said. “I just couldn’t not be a dance major after that experience.”
Tan, too. is excited to be an intended dance major, to “create pieces that [she] envisions on Semaphore, an extremely supportive, cooperative group of people.”
Howard shares this opinion.
“I like working with Semaphore because the dancers are skillful, outstanding, committed, engaged and have a high appreciation for the art form,” she said. “There is a spirit of collaboration and support of each other and an environment of good will. I am inspired by how hard they work.”
This outstanding work ethic bonds Semaphore members.
“Everyone is at the same commitment level and is serious about dancing,” said Tan.
Ban furthered this by saying, “It’s the most challenging dance experience I’ve ever had. You have to be flexible and mold to so many different kinds of movement. It’s a really incredible group experience. Everyone has to be completely together for it to work. Our unity is invigorating.
“Semaphore is by far my favorite thing about Carleton,” she said.
This “semapride” will surely translate to the performance this weekend.
Semaphore will perform two dances by professional choreographers from the Twin Cities: Uri Sands of TU Dance and Carl Flink of Black Label Movement Company. Howard’s Fall Dance class with perform, Nicolas Lincoln of the James Sewell Ballet Company will perform a piece choreographed by Howard and two Semaphore members will perform a piece by Shockley. Ban, Erickson and Tan have also each choreographed a piece.