The University of Utah Department of Modern Dance Blog

Monday, March 17, 2014

Gallim Dance at the U.

Whenever we have a guest artist in the department we have an informal Q&A brown bag lunch in our triangle lounge. I walked in a few minutes late to this brown bag, just in time to hear Emily Terndrup say “There is a niche for you in dance.” Emily was here with Gallim Dance, performing in their evening-length work Blush. Gallim Dance, a New York based contemporary dance company, creates and performs worldwide original work by artistic director and founder Andrea Miller. Gallim’s performance of Blush was presented by the Department in partnership with Kingsbury Hall, at the Marriott Center for Dance’s Hayes Christensen Theatre.

Back to Emily – she is a U alumna - a BFA graduate originally from West Des Moines, Iowa. She’s talking about moving from Salt Lake City to build her career in New York. “Learn to take class for your self, give yourself corrections; ask ‘What am I going to get out of class today?” The topic turns to auditioning, and immediately the room fills with that tense, deer-in-the-headlights look we all get when thinking about the audition process. (Do you ever stop being nervous about auditions?) Emily advises coming to an audition as if you are already employed. “Be the most evolved person you can be,” she says, “You can bring something to them, show that this is who you are – it might work for them or not but that’s who you are.”

I grabbed a few minutes with Emily after the lunch to ask more questions.

What do you like about being in Gallim Dance?
“It’s challenging repertory and dance; physical, dramatic, edgy, exciting stuff.”

How did your education here at the U prepare you for your dance career?
“It gave me a versatile base; beyond technique, I create work, I teach and I know how to improvise – being able to improvise is huge. And all that stuff that feels like a support to dance but actually informs your whole career – website, marketing – I know how to do all that.”

How do you make a full-time tour work with your life? How do you take care of yourself?
“Take responsibility for your own sustainability. Find things that make you happy and keep those near you. I mean sometimes you feel split between being a dancer and being a person – make choices. Ask yourself - what do you want to give?”

The advice from her brown bag lunch came in handy for me right away. After Blush finished Emily and the rest of the company head back to New York. Artistic Director Andrea Miller and Associate Director Francesca Romo stayed in Salt Lake City for two weeks to teach classes in the department and set the piece Pupil Suite on nine dancers. I decided to audition, and man was I nervous. I lost the counts and took off on my own improvisation halfway through a combination; I blew it! 

In spite of my flub, I made the piece. But now to learn 17 minutes of work in two weeks - no small feat. Pupil Suite premiered in 2010 and continues in the company's rep. It's a full throttle dance set to Balkan Beat Box and Bellini. We rehearsed for a month and performed the 17 minute work during the Performing Dance Company show. After the first run of the piece we were gasping for air. The endurance took a few weeks to build, but by the end of the show we hit our stride. 

Gallim Dance's "fearless physicality grounded by deep humanity and expressed through the madness and joy of the imagination" is ingrained in Andrea and Fran's process. They are exuberant and deeply engaged with us as individual dancers. The rehearsals are more than learning a dance, they are an exploration of the characters that live inside each of usAt the beginning of the residency Emily said "There is a niche for you in dance." An ode to the imagination, Pupil Suite is a playful romp that lends itself to finding this niche.

Emily’s photo taken from

Rehearsal photos by Rob Tennant.

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