"Bluebird" took flight last night and will continue to soar tonight and tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. in the Green Center for the Performing Arts' Moore Theatre.
The idea for "Bluebird," a student-led dance production premiering this weekend, began several years ago when current junior Andre Williams, "Bluebird" artistic director and head choreographer, was a senior in high school. It was inspired by the poem of the same name by Charles Bukowski.
"'Bluebird' is about a young man, his name is Theodore, who looses his grandmother," Williams said of his character. "He's taking care of his grandmother for the first act, and he's fallen in love with a girl that he grew up with. After his grandmother dies he pursues her."
However, being in a show that you choreograph has some downfalls.
"I haven't been able to see it because I've been running around like a crazy man all the time," Williams said.
To over come this challenge, Williams filmed practices and put the videos in a private Facebook group. The dancers could watch the videos and practice as needed.
"I think if there's anything that I've learned, and this goes for 'Elements' as well, it's that it's hard," Williams said. "It's really hard to put together a show, an hour and a half dance show, with one or two choreographers."
Last spring, Williams choreographed and stared in another dance production, titled "Elements." Williams was a one-man production team for "Elements," but this year, he had an entire production team.
"My production team is absolutely amazing," Williams said. "I've been able to rely on other people and let them do their thing."
Junior Kay Wood was the producer, and senior Shannon Crosby was the assistant director. The complete production team was comprised of 12 students, including Williams, Wood and Crosby. Veronica Pejril, instructional technologist and coordinator of the Music Instructional Technology Center, composed the music for the production.
"[Isabella Capasso] was the main costume designer, but I was there to help out," said sophomore Tori Lividini. "I did a lot of additional roles like putting on little pieces and helping with certain designs and fabrics."
Lividini was the assistant costume designer for "Bluebird." Prior to the show, she only had experience in costuming theatre productions.
"Dance is a lot different because you have to keep in mind how they're moving and how it's going to look through the movements," Lividini said. "For theatre, it's just how it's viewed and how it's going to put them into a role, but with dancing, the costume itself has to move and has to have a way of flowing. It has to have it's own kind of dance to it."
In addition to considering how the fabric would need to move to accommodate dancers, Lividini said they were working with a style that they initially knew little about: steam punk.
"Steam punk is 1800s Victorian fashion mixed with exposed metal, cogs, keys, inter-workings," said sophomore Olivia Cloer, who works in the costume shop and was part of the design team.
It was a happy accident that Williams stubbled across and chose the steam punk style for the costumes.
"The idea of steam punk came along when I was doing some research last year, I believe, on just different types of styles of clothing," Williams said. "It's like this whole alternate world where if the world would have, instead of going to electric things, it would have went completely steam."
Williams chose steam punk because he had a very specific message he wanted to make sure came across in the costuming.
"I wanted to do something that was relatable but at the same time kind of out of this world," Williams said. "I wanted people to have a sense of being able to relate to it, but also being able to take a step away from it and see it as a production rather than something that is just trying to make you think."
To convey the steam punk style, the costumes include deconstructed jewelry, keys, lace and feathers.
"It was a lot of things that I wasn't used to working with," Lividini said.
One of the costumes featured a black tulle-based skirt with keys and metal pieces sewn into it.
"It wasn't so much making things but adding to things that was a lot of work," Lividini said.
The design team had to be creative in the techniques used to attach the unconventional but required parts.
"The keys and little metal parts was sewing," Lividini said. "However, we used a lot of hot glue to get feathers and stuff."
Lividini said that hot glue was the best method to attach the feathers to skirts and leggings.
"You can't sew a feather," Cloer said.
They also used hot glue to keep the feathers in reign.
"We had to use the hot glue to keep the feathers from being too fluffy because sometimes the over fluff didn't really match the theme," Lividini said.
Lividini said that "Bluebird" has been one of her favorite shows to work on.
"Some of the other ones it was just making clothing," Lividini said. "Yeah, there was a great result, but this one you look at it, and you're like, 'Wow, I thought of that,' because there was a lot more creativity in it. There was a lot more freedom in this show."
Williams said seeing it all come together has been "a dream come true."
"It's a really great process to see it come to life," Williams said, "and it's really magical for me."
While he enjoys seeing the final product, for Williams, the best aspect is working with the other dancers.
"What makes it so rewarding in the end is seeing the dancers perform their best," Williams said. "It doesn't even matter about the show as an artistic director.
As a choreographer, it really, to me, matters about the dancers and seeing them grow over the process."
Williams hopes that the audience will form their own opinion of the production.
"There's a lot of different concepts and metaphors that happen in this show," Williams said. "I just want them to take something and hold on to it."