A sneak peek into Body Talk: Poetry in Motion


Abby Keenley

Dancers rehearse for their upcoming performances.

By Reese Dahlgren

The 2022 Body Talk Dance Concert is right around the corner. 

In light of the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in the Branson community, the program will be live-streamed on Jan. 22 and Jan. 24. Two vaccinated family members per dancer will be allowed to attend the first performance in the Jewett Family Theater, while the second performance will be live-streamed only. 

“Right now, we have a number of students working from home on Zoom,” Georgia Ortega, director of dance, said. “They’ve been very attentive with staying up with the rehearsal process, and I’m just hoping that everyone will be back, healthy, and ready to go.” 

The theme for this year’s show is “poetry in motion.” The first step in creating the performance pieces was selecting a poem to be presented before each dance.

“Every class chose an inspirational poem and then chose a student to recite that poem, which was then recorded,” Ortega said. “I wanted to do it in all of the languages that are represented at Branson, so if a student was in the Latin class, then we did the poem in Latin. If they were in a Spanish class, then we would do it in Spanish.”

The idea of poetry in motion shows that words matter and have meaning. It brings people together and lends itself to collaboration.

— Georgia Ortega

The performance will be less than an hour long without an intermission, so Ortega added that the poems would give dancers more time for costume changes in between their dances. 

Once a poem was selected, the dancers began working with music and developing choreography. Each class has multiple dances that were choreographed by a combination of Ortega, the performers themselves, and guest artists Kyle Mitchell and Vera Schwegler. 

Fiona Tran, a junior in Dance Performance Ensemble, gave a brief preview of the three dances her class will perform. 

“The first one we are doing is one we choreographed ourselves, which is very fun, athletic and upbeat, with elements of jazz and hip-hop,” Tran said. “The second one is a contemporary, lyrical dance titled “Memories of a Lost Optimist,” choreographed by a guest choreographer, and the third one is a hip-hop number about cellphones.”

Students have been preparing for this show since October, and many of these students are performing for their first time in front of the Branson community. 

“This is the first time I’ve ever done a real dance in a coordinated class,” Mo Jacoby, a freshman in Athletic Dance for Men I, said. “I’m in this class with a couple of my friends, which is fun.  It’s definitely a new and exciting experience.” 

Every person involved in Body Talk has a different idea of what “poetry in motion” means to them. When Ortega chose this theme, she thought of it as “an opportunity to look at how we are inspired by the artwork of others.”

Stella Rieke, a sophomore in Dance Performance Ensemble, shared her own understanding of “poetry in motion.”

“Poetry is very peaceful and artistic,” Rieke said. “Some poems can be really dramatic. Motion is very active and energetic but also calm and [with] slight movements. It all depends on how you interpret it.”