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The Times-Delphic

The Student News Site of Drake University

The Times-Delphic

Drake Theatre People explore love in new show

“This Is What ___ Feels Like” explores the emotions that come with a relationship, from the love at the beginning to moving on. Photo by Adelaide Kuehn | Courtesy of Drake Theatre People

Drake Theatre People presented “This Is What ___ Feels Like” on Sunday, Feb. 10, a performance that made history as the organization’s first full-length dance performance. 

Choreographed by sophomore Kurtis Nethington and junior Devon Vick, the show explored all of the emotions that come with love, breaking up and moving on. Nethington and Vick mapped out this emotional journey to the soundtrack of JVKE’s 2022 indie album “this is what ____ feels like (Vol. 1-4).”

“When I started developing this story, it was my first time being in a relationship and having those feelings towards someone else,” Nethington said. “It was important to me [to share this story] because I feel like we don’t get to express those feelings [as] fully and publicly as much as I think we wish we could.”

Nethington had been interested in working on a dance performance since before he arrived at Drake, and being involved in DTP allowed him to do so. DTP is a student-run campus organization that presents a variety of student-led theater productions throughout the year. Nethington’s original plan was to choreograph a series of songs about love, but he then found that JVKE’s album encapsulated all the feelings he wanted to share.

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Sophomore Ella Appelbaum, who portrays the lead dancer, worked through an arc of being in love, being cheated on and falling in love again in the performance. 

“I [discovered] in myself different ways [I could] manipulate my body and my face and my different movements to convey a specific emotion or tell a specific story that people will understand and grasp,” Appelbaum said.

Nethington and Vick choreographed emotion with the 11 other cast members in mind. Senior Brynn Kelly was in the ensemble and enjoyed the collaborative aspect of the choreography.

“Telling that story was interesting with the ensemble members being an extension of the solo dancer, Ella Appelbaum, and riding off of her emotion and having us tell the story,” Kelly said.

The lighting of the show, designed by Nethington and senior Megan Riordan, also helped convey emotion.

“If you notice, ‘golden hour’ and ‘i can’t help it’ are the two brightest songs in the show, literally [the] brightest, and they’re the two brightest moments in the story,” Vick said.

Prominent musical choreographer Bob Fosse’s style of isolating one part of the body inspired Nethington and Vick. They came into rehearsals with concepts but choreographed on the spot.

“What ended up happening became very much real and raw choreography to how we were feeling that day and how the song was influencing us that day,” Nethington said.

DTP presented the show in Drake’s Coleman Studio Theatre. According to Kelly,  the small black box theater provided an intimate setting full of supporters.

“So many people came — professors, students, people outside of the department and family members—which makes it so special because it’s only a one-night show,” Kelly said. “The energy was electric, and I could tell that everyone was just so invested.”

Vick explored many of the issues she’s had in her own life with codependency in choreographing this show.

“There’s a protectiveness that comes with that because I have put so much of myself into this, Kurtis has put so much of himself into this,” Vick said. “It’s very anxiety-inducing right before because you don’t know how people are gonna respond.”

According to Nethington, the show moved several audience members to tears. He found their reactions to the show touching, as it made him feel less alone.

“I forget that most of the time a lot of people are experiencing the same things that I am, and it’s such a beautiful thing when we are reminded that we have an army behind us to support [us],” Nethington said.

Nethington is currently working on another dance production for DTP that he hopes to bring to the stage. 

“Dance is always characterized as something that people do when one can no longer speak,” Nethington said. “When they can no longer sing, then [they] dance.”

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