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Dancing into The Station
SCAD stages ambitious modern ballet
"The Station" in rehearsal at SCAD

SCAD presents its world premiere of the dance performance The Station this weekend at the Trustees Theater. The light–hearted show brings together a total of 30 dancers and is the brainchild of SCAD performing arts professor Vincent Brosseau.

As the title indicates, much of the action takes place at a train station.

“Originally, I came up with this idea of how can I do something that gives a sense of progression? It started with this idea of a place where people can meet, the train station,” he says. “I thought it would be wonderful because you can see where they are in their life because of the way they behave in the train station. Then, they leave, and you see them later on.

“Maybe three months later, a year later, many years later, and they have actually changed. What was very appealing to me was the fact that you could understand the story only by the beginning and the end. The audience has to fill in the middle, but it’s quite clear.”

Brosseau, who has an extensive dance background, also has an interesting story to tell about how he began his career in the arts:

“I studied in France, where I’m from, and I started dancing there when I was nine years old. I started dancing simply because I was a very active boy,” he says.

“I had two choices of activities in my small town in France – one was judo, the other was ballet.  My mother asked me what I wanted to do; I said, ‘Judo,’ and she said, ‘Fine, you’ll do ballet.’  That’s how it started.”

In France, he went to a conservatory, worked with dance companies throughout Europe. In the U.S., he graduated from the prestigious Juilliard School.

In his four years with SCAD, Brosseau has choreographed Guys and Dolls and Carousel, and created the dance pieces “Silence,” “Ripping Souls,” “The Crossing,” and others.

LaTonya Tolbert, dancing the role of the den keeper, Miss Anna, explains the amount of work involved in the production of the performance:

“We’ve been rehearsing since January, about a 10–12 week rehearsal process.  Of course, it began initially with the audition,” she says. “Then, once casting was done, Vincent takes the time to explain the concept and how everyone’s role relates and connects to the overall storyline."

At ensemble rehearsals, the dancers work in groups of 5 to 20. Then, there are separate rehearsals for soloists and duos working together with the choreographer.

“It comes to a unified whole where we start to run the show, in sequence, from beginning to end,” says Tolbert. “It takes a lot of independent work. It takes a lot of rehearsal on your own. It’s a rehearsal process, not a training process, although, there are times where we are supportive of each other in terms of making sure that the technique is in place and that the movements exist and have the proper shape. It’s a performance, and with a performance, there is a certain level of technique and training that has to be in place in order for the action to move forward.”

Tolbert has worked with Brosseau before in one of his previous productions.

“Vincent’s work is ingenious,” she comments. “Many choreographers create movements, but few choreographers embody the essence of characterization in the movements, making the body actually speak text.  It’s easy for the body to speak movement; it requires more of a mastery and an understanding to embody the essence of characters.

“Vincent is a very sensitive person, and I think that because of that he is able to embody the essence of characters within the dance. His work does have a sense of familiarity, a sense of connection, and a sense of intimacy that is deeply woven throughout the storyline. That’s a common element in his work, his ability to put characterization into dance and to allow the body to speak text,” Tolbert says.

Jake Dupree plays the roles of the young lover and the soldier. Dupree dances with Brosseau’s 6–year–old daughter, Jolie–Anne Brosseau, who is featured in the performance. She plays the role of the daughter of the young lovers in Act II.
Dupree has worked with Brosseau three times, including this production.  Dupree explains his dance background:

“I actually never danced at all until I got to college. I’ve been a gymnast since I was 4, and I competed for six or seven years,” he says. “One of my friends introduced me to dance. Vincent had just taken me under his wing and really helped me grow.”

Dupree says, “I am so excited for people to see The Station. It’s different for Vincent; it’s a lot more light–hearted.  His past two dance shows have been pretty intense, but this one is definitely a lot lighter, and I’m anxious to see how people react to it. I think it’s going to turn out really well. It’s light–hearted in the sense that it’s about everyday people.

“The stories are being told through the dancers, and you know the people they represent; you’ve seen these people.  It’s going to be recognizable and easy to relate to. I hope a lot of people come to see it.”

The Station

When: April 3, 8 p.m., April 4, 3 p.m., and April 5, 8 p.m.

Where: Trustees Theatre, 216 E. Broughton St.

Cost: $10 general public, $5 students. Monday show free for SCAD students with valid ID.