After saving itself from elimination last year, the UNL dance program is continuing education while its students are hard at work to prove themselves to the community.

On Dec. 3 and 4, the students of the Glenn Korff School of Music’s dance program will share their talents with the Lincoln community through their annual Student Dance Project. The shows on Friday and Saturday are both at 7:30 p.m. at the Temple Building.

According to Valerie Gust, a junior dance major and choreographer for the Student Dance Project, this is a rare opportunity for the students to create their own dances and set them on other dancers.

“It’s a great experience for us to learn how to teach others, just to show off our work and work our way through creating pieces,” Gust said.

The choreographers for the showcase are students from a two-semester dance composition class that is required of all dance majors, Gust said. She included that the dancers for the student pieces are chosen from all of the dance students. 

This year, Gust choreographed a modern piece inspired by wind. She said the piece explores sensations of uncertainty and being unbalanced by wind. 

“I remembered freshman year, I would walk from the dorms all the way to the dance building,” Gust said. “The wind would always pull me off my feet, and I felt like I was just about to take off. It’s uncertain, and sometimes you feel like you’re perfectly fine and the next moment you’re falling over.”

Lanie Allen is a junior dance major and another choreographer for the Student Dance Project. Her piece is inspired by her search for a balance between all her responsibilities and finding time to relax.

“I drew inspiration from this feeling of always working and just not being able to find rest and figuring out what a healthy work-life balance looks like for me and still struggling with that to this day,” Allen said.

Allen, who was also a choreographer last year, said that this year she wanted to experiment with a larger number of dancers and ended up choosing seven. She said that for her second time around, she feels self-assured in who she is as a choreographer. 

“This year, I feel like I have been a lot more confident in trying new things,” Allen said. “I feel like I was a lot more true to who I am as a choreographer. I was able to try new lifts with my dancers and different contact things that I didn’t get to try last year because of COVID.”

According to Allen, this experience and push to learn to choreograph was helpful for her to grow as a choreographer and as a performer. 

“It’s good to be able to practice on people in a safe space where you can learn and everyone understands that it’s not going to be perfect the first time,” Allen said. “As a performer, learning to choreograph and how that process works is helpful because then when I go into rehearsal, I can see what that choreographer is going through and how I can help as a performer.”

Admission to the Student Dance Project is $7 for the public and $5 for students. The Saturday performance will also be live-streamed on the Glenn Korff School of Music webcast page

Gust encouraged everyone to come and learn about dance, support the University of Nebraska-Lincoln community and enjoy the show.

“It’s going to be awesome,” Gust said. “It’s good to go somewhere and watch a show and learn about dance or theatre and just supporting everyone in our UNL community. We have plenty of choreographers this year and a lot of different content. I think it’s going to be really entertaining for people to watch and learn more about dance so we can be known more within the community.”