Written by Taylor Humby. Originally published November 19th, 2019.
To celebrate their launch into a new decade as a company and the beginning of their 31st season, Idaho Dance Theatre (IDT) showcased its fresh talent with a new show. ‘LAUNCH’ incorporated a diverse range of choreographed performances, sharing pieces from stories inspired by personal life experiences to spotlighting issues like incarceration.
Through the expression of physical movement, IDT aimed to explore six different takes on life through our relationships to one another, the world and the current political climate.
Recent Boise State graduate and choreographer Taylor Munson started dancing with the company during her sophomore year. Munson choreographed the piece “In Her Shoes,” which shares the stories of incarcerated women through movement, voice and guitar.
“For my piece, I actually pulled some interviews that I did with incarcerated women for a podcast for my senior project, and I took their voices and turn them into solos for dancers.” Munson said. “I wanted there to be the focus on what they're saying, but also on the movement. I'm hoping that it could give people a new perspective, by kind of thinking about the issue in a more artistic way. By adding this other layer of movement, it might change the way people receive it.”
The use of movement to share stories from all walks of life in a new and engaging ways is what makes the company so unique, according to Munson.
“We don't really have a set thing that we do, which I think is cool, because then people come to the show not really knowing what to expect,” Munson said. “It's a new story and a new theme each time, so it gives lots of different types of people something to enjoy, instead of just appealing to one specific type of person. It's something that everyone can get on board with.”
IDT choreographer and adjunct faculty member Yurek Hansen created the piece “Catharsis.” The performance hoped to bring awareness to the idea of healers among us, or those that can help provide release from pain and suffering.
“The idea for my piece came from personal experiences of death in my life,” Yurek Hansen said. “The imagery in the beginning was about the pain and the suffering that we all hold on to. Then from there, the essence is breaking free from those patterns, but then being pulled right back in because you can break free from the physicality. But if you haven't changed the mind, the mind will pull you right back into those old moods or those old configurations of body.”
Although Yurek Hansen hopes audiences draw catharsis from his choreography, he also explained that the most exciting part of this show is the ambiguity in regard to audience reaction.
“If a concept comes into someone's mind in relation to the kind of dances I mostly create, that's theirs. It has nothing to do with the dance,” Yurek Hansen said. “If somebody hates it, we still affected them somehow.”
Marla Hansen, IDT’s artistic director, hoped audiences would recognize the level of talent found within this show. Marla Hansen founded the company in 1989 after an extensive background in dance before eventually becoming the director of dance at Boise State through the Department of Theatre, Film and Creative Writing.
“We bring a lot to the program here because the quality is very high, and for a program that's just a dance minor, not a BA or BFA, we rank up there pretty darn high,” Marla Hansen said. “A lot of it is because we do have this professional level of dancers who the students can aspire to [be], and the good ones, like Taylor Munson, get to join the company as students. Many dancers come here because of the company and then decide to go full time to school.”
Marla Hansen described the most important process for creating the show as one of collaboration, giving opportunities to those new and old within not only the company, but Boise State as a whole.
“We have four new dancers in the company. We have dancers, who have been with us for many years, like Yurek Hansen, and then dancers who are coming back into the company after taking a break,” Marla Hansen said. “So this show is so important because we are giving artists, choreographers and lighting designers opportunities. Let alone, the community gets to see these amazing creative works.”
Marla Hansen urged students to take the opportunity to witness and be inspired by upcoming performances by IDT, regardless of background.
“Unless you have come to see a show, you have no idea what a visceral feeling you get from it,” Marla Hansen said. “It doesn't matter whether your interests lie in any other performing arts or sports, you're going to find something there that really hits home. Try it, don't graduate without it.”