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The Carletonian

“Gu-Comps” breaks down genre hierarchy

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Last Friday and Saturday, senior Dance major Gustave Maisonrouge presented his Comps show, “Gu-Comps”. The performance brought together a large collection of dancers from diverse backgrounds and the various groups of Semaphore, Whoa!, and the Experimental Dance Board.

Maisonrouge himself has been involved in each of these dance groups throughout his time at Carleton, even if he did not always identify himself heavily as a dancer. Growing up in New York, he danced at the informal National Dance Institute, but took a break before coming to Carleton. Here, he danced with Ebony and then, though inexperienced, he auditioned for Semaphore on a whim.

Through the years here, he became a director of Ebony for a year, got into Whoa!, and began to take both ballet and modern classes in addition to dancing with Semaphore. By this year, he danced and choreographed for all of these groups as well as Experimental Dance Board (EDB), and now takes academic dance courses with professor Judith Howard.

Until May, Maisonrouge was an Economics major, but decided while on his gap year between junior and senior year that he wanted to pursue his dance passion more vigorously. He noted, “I started a little late on the dance major, so while most people start choreographing a piece that will be Comps in their junior year, I started this fall. COMPs was on my mind all year, too, because I knew that I had to play catch-up a bit.”

Throughout the year, he has choreographed for the different dance groups and incorporated several of those pieces into his final Comps show. “As a dancer, I tend to be a jack of all trades but king of none—I’m more well-rounded.”

Rachel Clark ’15 danced in the piece that Maisonrouge choreographed for his Comps with the Semaphore dancers. She said, “Gustave’s Comps was really unique and special because he was drawing on so many different dance groups and backgrounds on campus. Often in the dance world, we privilege ballet and modern as the most legitimate forms of dance, so I’m really glad he pulled in the equally valid EDB and Whoa! pieces.”

Maisonrouge was able to control the direction that his Comps took to include the variety of dance experience that he has had and communities that he has been a part of. In the Dance major, too, there is an ability to go in certain directions. “Because it is a special major, it is really up to the student and department to decide what exactly the major will be,” he said. For him, his major is rooted in choreography, dance history and culture, and theater. For previous majors, there have been focuses on sociology and anthropology, biology of movement, and more.

“I think that performance is a great way to share ideas with audience members, and I wanted to use my performance to try to draw attention to conventions and gendered expectations that people have when they come into a performance setting,” Clark said. “We put together an informal show meant to engage the audience in critical discussion, and I was really excited about the conversations that came out of it.”

In this way, the performances that have emerged from different majors in their Comps processes have often emphasized connections. Maisonrouge was glad to “bring all of the dance groups together to get to know each other more intimately than just seeing one another on stage.” Kira Patterson ’18, a member of the dance community who wasn’t in the performance, appreciated the “unifying theme of bringing different groups together.”

Patterson also emphasized that dance is special in that it “inspires a more intimate connection because people can relate what bodies are going through as they move in front of them.” Dance and performance have innate qualities that emphasize connections among the performers and with an audience as well.

Through performances, seniors have, in a variety of ways, brought people together in preparation and performance. Maisonrouge continued this legacy recently in a beautifully unique comps performance.

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