Behind the Stage: Talking "(re) imagine: riffs, reverses, and revolutions" with Alumna Choreographer Shanelle Valentine
Kicking off the second half of our 2021-2022 season is (re) imagine: riffs, reverses, and revolutions. (re) imagine: riffs, reverses, and revolutions is the first dance concert on the Telfair Peet stage since 2019 and features choreography from our resident choreographers and dance instructors, Adrienne Wilson and Jeri Dickey. In addition to their work, the concert also showcases the work of guest artists, including Shanelle Valentine, a recent graduate of Auburn University.
Shanelle graduated with a degree in Exercise Science and is currently pursuing her master’s in Physical Activity and Health. During her undergraduate career, Shanelle performed in numerous dance concerts and productions. Her previous Auburn credits include Eurydice in Antigone, Dancer in Take a Walk in Her Shoes, and Dancer in Dancing Community: Cultivating Our Roots. Currently, Shanelle is affiliated with Auburn Athletics and is a coordinator for on-campus recruiting for Auburn football. She spends her gamedays working on official visits and helping the recruiting process run smoothly. Shanelle said, “It is a very different world from the arts, but I am so thankful that Jeri and Adrienne have welcomed me back into the theatrical one.”
What interested Shanelle most about choreographing in (re)imagine: riffs, reverses, and revolutions was that she started rehearsal for her piece “End It” before the pandemic. This dance was supposed to be featured in the canceled 2020 dance concert entitled Bodies in Motion. “I was honored to be brought back as a choreographer and thankful that Jeri and Adrienne considered me for this project,” Shanelle shared. The theme for the concert is right in the title—reimagining our present moment, offering pieces that write new narratives to showcase the abilities of human bodies to tell stories. In this case, Shanelle is using different dancers to revamp her piece and bring it to fruition on the stage.
“End It” is about the movement against human trafficking. When the dance was first conceived, Shanelle took inspiration from the story of a local student, whose experience had struck fear in the female population of the Auburn community. Through dance and movement, Shanelle hoped to show that is real and happening, even when we don’t think about it. Her piece incorporates symbolism, such as red fabric and a diminishing number of dancers. Even though the movement is not trending as much as it was in 2020, Shanelle feels that it is just as important for audiences to see today.
“I want to build my choreography around the strengths of what the dancers tell me that they can do,” explained Shanelle, who has adjusted her old piece to the skill level of the dancers she had in the room. Rehearsals took place twice a week and her work presented new challenges for her. One challenge the dancers had to face was the use of masks while doing high energy movement. She mentioned that they take frequent breaks between running the dance “full-out”.
Perhaps Shanelle’s hardest challenge throughout the process has been juggling work and dance. She talked about how hard it is to turn off her football brain and switch over to ballet terms within a few minutes. She also noted how the shorter rehearsal schedule meant she had less time to learn everyone’s names, faces, and abilities. She said, “I love working collaboratively and asking the group for their ideas, especially since we have a short time to work together.”
According to Shanelle, people should come see (re) imagine: riffs, reverses, and revolutions because it is an opportunity to see dance again live on stage. “It is a privilege to be back in the theatre and,” she joked, “if you do not come, what are you doing with your life?” Shanelle believes in all the hard work that has been put into this concert and feels like it is deserving of the final puzzle piece-- the audience.
Get your tickets now to watch Shanelle’s choreography live and to support all the talented dancers in the Auburn community.
Conceived and Directed by
Adrienne Wilson and Jeri Dickey
Featuring the Auburn University Dance Ensemble & Guest Artists
February 10-13, 2021
Telfair B. Peet Mainstage Theatre
Thur. Feb. 10 @ 7:30pm*
Fri. Feb. 11 @ 7:30pm
Sat. Feb. 12 @ 7:30pm
Sun. Feb. 13 @ 2:30pm
*Talkback after show
Last Updated: January 31, 2022