On Sept. 1 2015, the Archer Dance Troupe leadership team started auditions for the 2016 Night of Dance recital, which will be held on Feb. 20 and 21 at the American Jewish University. Locke then began meeting with the leadership team of Dance Troupe to plan the theme for the annual dance recital: “Threads: 20 Years of Change and Innovation.”
“Every year I get together with the leadership team and we discuss, in the spring, the upcoming theme of the dance show. When we got together, everybody was so excited about innovation, technology, and you know, changes,” Locke said.
Usually Locke comes up with the theme before summer so that choreographers and student choreographers are ready to go in September. She said that it was hard for her and Dance Troupe Captain Kendra Casey ’16 to make a connection and find a thread that ran through the many theme ideas they were discussing.
Locke recalled that towards the end of the summer she said to herself, “Oh my gosh, this is 20 years of Archer.” This became the beginning of the thread.
“Between 1995 and 2015 what were the innovations and what were the changes? That become our focal point, and then it was about finding a title and using ‘threads,'” Locke said.
“Threads” was not originally going to be the title of the show, but it made sense to the leadership team based on the themes they were proposing.
According to Locke, they wanted to honor Archer’s founders in a way that wasn’t telling the story of the whole journey, but in a way that explained the founders were the beginning of this chain of changes and innovations.
Locke said she doesn’t “necessarily mean innovations in the world, but ones that affected the girls and the faculty and everybody at Archer. Things that have happened socially, like diverse families, Malala, first black president, ‘Black Lives Matter,’ ‘[Bring Back Our Girls],’ 9/11, global warming, dystopia. All of those are in our show.”
It was adventurous and far-reaching for the team, but “The puzzle pieces are coming together, and it’s really exciting. There are so many changes that are happening, so it’s called ‘Threads: 20 Years of Change and Innovation,'” Locke said.
Last year was the first time there was a “real flowing show that went from beginning to end,” Locke said.
“Even though we have always had themes [for the performances], they were like little individual dances. That’s why we thought so hard this year because it was so hard to define a thread and a connection to this year. I would say that the difference this year is the use of technology.” Locke said.
Along with the theme of change and innovation for the recital, Archer’s Robotics Team is currently building a robot to be incorporated into the show.
“The robot is being designed and built as we speak, and it will be coordinated with dance moves,” Locke said. “So that’s really an exciting thing. Again, it’s like the puzzle pieces, we still have to pull them all together.”
Locke’s goals for the year include presenting a show that is “innovative and inspiring.”
“What’s really important, especially for the student choreographers and as well as the guest choreographers, is that there is a real step outside of the box of what they usually do,” she said.
“These themes that we have are not easy, and to abstract them in a way that’s not boring requires each choreographer and even the dancers to really dig deeper and go beyond how they usually perform and how they usually create.”
“Change and innovation is a continuous thing, and if we can grab hold of that, then we can always be in step with the changes that are going on — especially with young people,” she said.