By Ashley Dillard
Hello IU theatre fans! It’s been almost 2 weeks since my last interview–have you missed me? Have no fear! I am back with an in-depth chat with the University Player’s Director of Choreography, Bailey Praeger to discuss her recent UP dance production, Slip. University Players is a student-run theatre organization at Indiana University dedicated to providing further opportunities in the areas of theatrical performance, production, management, and educational outreach to undergraduate students of all majors and backgrounds.
Slip marked University Player’s first dance collaboration and featured 11 original student choreographed pieces. As UP’s Director of Choreography, Bailey also served as Slip’s director. “Josiah Brown and Benny Sully (UP board members) came to me with the idea of doing this dance concert. They saw me in Antigone and approached me about joining the UP board in a new position of Director of Choreography. Included in the duties for that position was directing a dance concert. They really wanted to get dance more involved with University Players and the theatre department. And I was like ‘Yes, please!’ It’s one of my goals while I’m at IU is to get these two areas to cross over one way or another. There’s not a whole lot of opportunity for that to happen as it exists right now.”
Bailey is dedicated to bridging the gap between theatre and contemporary dance. Not only did she and Cameron Barnett (both contemporary dance majors) perform in in last year’s production of Antigone, but she is also heavily involved in theatre department activities. She wanted as many people to be involved with Slip as possible. “We had two theatre majors involved in dance pieces, which was really great. Scheduling can be a nightmare and we did have more involved, but then people were cast in main stage shows and had to drop out. In the future, we would love to have more non-dance majors involved in either choreographing or dancing in the concert.”
Slip highlighted 11 student choreographer’s work ranging from group pieces to duets. “I told them they could do whatever they wanted and they were very excited about that. In our department, most of our student choreography must fall under the category of contemporary dance. I really wanted this project to help our student choreographers not have to do that. In some cases, Slip, allowed them to go outside of their comfort zone and explore different styles of dance. It was really lovely. There were many people who took this as an exciting challenge.”
Not only did Bailey serve as director for Slip, she also choreographed a piece in the concert. “I had to change my cast 3 or 4 times because of issues with scheduling! At one point, I wasn’t sure we were going to be able to pull something like this off. But we did! Sometimes I take for granted the caliber of my peers. We have some really creative minds and some really smart dancers. I’m really proud.”
So what’s next for Bailey? “I will being choreographing Ghost Quartet, the next UP musical, opening in up in a few months. I am always looking for more ways for contemporary dance to be involved with theatrical productions and vice versa. I want to be a voice for the dancers. I want to find ways for them to be more integrated within the department.”
Bailey definitely thinks there will be more student dance concerts in the future. “Now that it has happened and it was really successful, people will be looking for it next year. It’s going to be a much more diverse program and that is really exciting!”
Ashley Dillard is a 3rd year MFA actor at Indiana University. She has been seen most recently as Kate in Dancing at Lughnasa at IU, Katherine in Home at the BPP, Marianne in Sense and Sensibility and Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream both for IU Summer Theater. Though she calls beautiful Bloomington home now, she originally hails from Highland, IN.