Orchesis learns new steps from guest choreographer Corey Nagel

Christine Vassos, Staff Reporter

Orchesis dancers began practicing under the instruction of guest choreographer Corey Nagel after school on Wednesday, January 9, 16, 23 and 30. Nagel, who has taught on the faculties for ISU, Loyola University of Chicago, and Harper College, currently works on the faculty for Jo’s Footwork Studio and is the Artistic Director for the Matrix Dance Improv.

Nagel will be working again with the dancers on February 20.

Orchesis will be opening their show with Nagel’s dance on Friday, April 26 and Saturday, April 27 at 7:00 p.m..  The piece is called “Melting Memories” and is about the dancers’ past memories and expeirences.  Beyond choreographing the dance from music selection to title, Nagel will also be making the dancers’ costumes by hand.

Nagel is a modern dancer who has taught the dancers technique, movement, and improvisational movement ideas through her art of modern dancing.  “Melting Memories” is a challenging dance that will force the dancers to work on their balance and core strength.

Beyond working on this opening dance, Orchesis members start their entire dance season on February 25 and will be rehearsing until their show in April.  Nagel’s dance occurs in a long tradition of including a dance from a guest choreographer in the Spring show.  The rest of the dances will be choreographed by the dancers themselves.  Orchesis includes a wide variety of dance styles such as modern dance, tap, jazz, and lyrical dance.

Want to hear a little more from Corey Nagel?  Check out our interview below:

Q:  How long have you been dancing and choreographing for?

A:   I started dance class when I was three years old and have been dancing for over fifty years. As a young child, I always knew that I wanted to teach dance and choreograph. When I was in grade school, I used to teach the neighborhood kids dance in my family’s garage and put on little shows for everyone. After dancing in high school, I received a B.S. in Dance from Illinois State University. I have been on the dance faculties for Illinois State University, Loyola University Chicago, and Harper College and guest instructor for the University of Chicago and Columbia College Integrated Arts. Currently, I teach for Jo’s Footwork Studio in Western Springs. My first “real” choreography developed at ISU. I was a member of University Dance Theater and choreographed for the concerts. I also worked in the housing project in Bloomington, directing a youth dance company, Essence – teaching, choreographing, and directing. Later on, I created a company of dance majors from ISU, Jazz Spectrum, for whom I choreographed. I was one of the founding members of McLean County Dance Association and directed and choreographed for the home company there, Synergy. I continue to guest choreograph for area high schools, as well as set pieces on my own company, Matrix Dance Improv.

Q:  How do you get new inspiration and themes for each new dance you choreograph for?

A:  Inspiration can come from anywhere at any time, you just have to be open to it. A simple idea can spark creativity. Music can touch an aesthetic nerve. Observation has been known to ignite the imagination. One thing I know for a fact, you cannot force creativity. I usually invent pieces intuitively, never questioning where the creative power comes from.

Q:  Where did your inspiration and theme come from for “Melting Memories”?

 A:  I was searching for just the right piece of music – one that was contemporary, not well known, and unique to itself. I had other musical pieces in mind, but they weren’t just “right”, something didn’t click. Cold Specks’ Winter Solstice touched my heart and pulled an emotional string. Although the lyrics never mention the words “melting” or “memories”, that became the vision of the piece. Memories of our past that define us, that mold us. Memories that melt our hearts or melt away to be forgotten.  Oscar Wilde says, “Memory is the diary we all carry about with us.”  

Q:  What is one tip you would give a young dancer?

A:  I am a strong believer in [the idea that] everything you do changes who you are. Young dancers need to get out there, experience as much as they can from a variety of sources and opportunities, learn and do and execute and grow, keep an open mind, and celebrate who they are – they are the future of dance.