Dance Professor Chris Johnson and eight students traveled to the Czech Republic over the summer to perform in the New Prague Dance Festival. The troupe returned with memorable experiences, and two major awards: second place in the contemporary dance company competition and first place in choreography for Johnson.
“I’m elated, thrilled, honored, and overwhelmed,” Johnson says. “I didn’t expect it. I just wanted the dancers to dance the best they could, and they did.”
The event, which took place June 29-July 5, is the highest caliber festival Beloit dancers have performed in to date, according to Johnson. In addition to competing against other American dancers, the group went up against dancers from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Great Britain, India, South Africa, and Taiwan.
Looking for skill, commitment, and excellent technique, Johnson selected the eight dancers from Chelonia and December Dance Workshop auditions. Participants were: Claire Alrich’13 of Evanston, Ill., Nora Anderson’13 of Minneapolis, Minn., Alissa Chen’14 of Madison, Wis., Sarah Miller’15 of St. Louis Park, Minn., Matt Porter’12 of Machesney Park, Ill., Amelia Tarpey’14 of Yellow Springs, Ohio, Lily Watkins’13 of Columbus, Ohio, and Marilu Wiesner’14 of Raleigh, N.C.
Beloit dancers performed “Between the Lines” and “Holding Patterns” (both choreographed by Johnson) and “One Sided” (choreographed by Porter and Vivian Chen’12).
Students also took classes from accomplished dance masters, forged international connections, and went on a day trip to Terezin, the concentration camp that provided the setting and inspiration for Johnson’s award-winning dance, “Wreath of Memories,” which many of the dancers had performed in during Chelonia 2012.
The Prague trip was made possible by the Weissberg Program in Human Rights, a Keefer Senior Faculty Grant, and a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.