Choreographic Works: portraits of multifaceted dancers

Choreographic Works is a unique show brought to life by Ryerson’s third- and fourth-year dance students. Many dancers have poured hours of hard work into the spectacle, juggling being choreographers for some pieces and dancers or musicians for others.

At the beginning of the school year, the students choreograph dances that are later auditioned and selected for two shows, one of which is Choreographic Works. The choreographers look into themselves and their past experiences to create meaningful and expressive pieces of art to share with each other and the audience.

Preston Wilder, a third-year dance student, is contributing to six pieces in the show. He choreographed his own solo, called Lindisfarne, as well as a duet. He’ll even be playing live piano for a solo called In Passing.


Wilder finds the multitasking aspect of the show exciting. “It keeps it fresh. If you get stuck on a choreography topic you can go work on another piece, or you can just rehearse,” he said. “Or if you don’t feel like going over the piece again and again, you can turn to a more creative side and write music for the piano piece.”

The dancers are taught different methods for finding inspiration.  External stimuli consist of physical inspiration, like going somewhere and embodying movement. “Or there’s internal stimuli, so the way that you felt, whether that’s a reaction to seeing something or taken from an experience that you’ve had,” Wilder said. The works he choreographed are all inspired by personal experiences from relationships.

Fourth-year dance student, Lukas Malkowski, is also involved in six pieces, four of which are his own creations. “Everything I created, I’m also a dancer in, so it’s really tough fulfilling my roles as a dancer in my own work and stepping outside to actually look at it and give it what it needs,” he said. He asked mentors that consist of the faculty and his colleagues to watch his work and give feedback.


His group dance, called Extinction Burst, is about the exploration of impulsive deviant behaviour. It included topless men and women, but had to be changed because the faculty felt it should be censored. “The faculty of this program does a lot to curate the show to make it as open as possible to the general public, so sometimes the ideas of the dancers change due to the needs of the producer of the show,” Malkowski explained.

Sarah Diorio is one of the few second-year dancers involved in the show. She has a self-choreographed solo, called Sarajevo, that she created based on thoughts she already had written down. She created a phrase of movement correlating to her words, and repeated it with different timing and in different orders.

She is also in a group piece tentatively titled Bloom. In this piece, the choreographer gave the dancers a task to “reveal and conceal.” The dancers created their own phrases with this task in mind, and then combined them together to construct the group. This way, all the dancers had some personal contribution to the group as a whole.

Choreographic Works is produced by Vicki St. Denys and will be showing at the Ryerson Theatre from March 4 to 12.

Photos by Andrea Vacl