USC Dance Company is collaborating with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company to put on a performance for its annual gala.
The company was chosen to complete a residency at USC due to its main values and focuses in dance. Members of the company Shane Larson and Jacoby Pruitt have been in Columbia providing the dancers with new knowledge and choreography to share on stage during their performance. According to Pruitt, the piece, "Story/Time," is a collection of phrases consisting of post-modernism movement.
Unlike other dance performances, "Story/Time" is composed of 60 one-minute phrases that appear in a randomized order. Pruitt and Larson said they were eager to share this form of choreography because they knew it was likely that the dancers had probably not experienced it before.
"We are kind of abstractedly leaving all of these things, leaving it up to chance and hoping that it all comes together," Pruitt said.
Fourth-year USC Dance Company performer Alana Averett said that since the choreography is more centered around day-to-day movement, rather than technical, it challenges the dancers to go against all they learned growing up.
"To bring it back to the human in us that's so natural and instinctual — it's just not for dancers," Averett said.
Due the length of the piece and the number of individual phrases, no dancer is expected to know all 60 phrases, Pruitt said. To go along with the randomly ordered theme, Larson created the sound score for the piece, which will also be randomized along with the order of choreography.
Larson said the core inspirations for this abstractedness came from American composer John Cage's "Indeterminacy" performance, as well as pulling phrases of choreography from Bill T. Jones and the repertory that the company has provided over the years.
"It's just about watching and seeing how the parts come together," Larson said.
Because the order of movement is unknown, the dancers are expected to adapt their sense of timing to whatever music that phrase aligns with. Throughout this process, Averett said the dancers have had to be each other's main support system.
"To also have phrases where we move as a unit is really cooI," Averett said.
When looking for performers, Larson and Pruitt said they selected 23 dancers that reflected the company's goal of creating a community in diversity by showcasing dancers with a variety of backgrounds.
With it being her last year with the company, Averett said she is thrilled to be ending her time through this performance because of the company's representation as well as its dance training.
"I think it's really cool as a Black dancer to engage with a Black company," Averett said.
Jennifer Deckert, the associate chair of the department of theatre and dance, said that the dance program at USC aims to create "an environment where everyone's voice is heard, and everyone feels safe and welcome."
When searching for companies to do the residency this semester, Deckert said she thought about what would excite the students the most.
"My passion is providing experiences for the students," Deckert said. "I am really excited about the USC and Columbia community seeing dance in a way that maybe they haven't been exposed to before."
When it comes to this particular experience, Deckert hopes that not only the students but also the community of Columbia gain something they have never encountered before.
Since "Story/Time" doesn't have a distinct message, Averett said the community portrayed on stage will be the biggest message the audience receives.
"Story/Time" will show April 1 at 6:30 p.m. and April 2 at 2 p.m at the Koger Center of Arts. Ticket can be purchased on its website.