Professor Draws on Danish Roots for Original Choreodrama

Feb 3rd, 2011 | By ,
| Category: 2011-02-03, Features, Top Headlines

VSU Theatre and Dance presents an original choreodrama by Eric Nielsen, communication arts professor and head of dance, opening on Friday, Feb. 4.

The Enchanted Mirrors” is a children’s choreodrama—a play with dance—based on Danish folklore with a score composed by Dr. James Shrader, music department head.

Nielsen originally wrote “The Enchanted Mirrors” while studying at the University of Utah years ago.

“During the summer of 2009, while healing from a hip replacement, I came across ‘The Enchanted Mirrors’ script and decided to rewrite it,” Nielsen said in the play’s author’s notes. “Much of my desire to continue working on this project came from Queen Margrethe of Den­mark.”

 Nielsen’s Danish heritage strongly influenced him while creating this play.

“Spending many holidays with my Danish relatives, I was able to observe the queen’s work,” he said. “I continually noticed that despite her administrative duties and obligations as ‘the people’s Queen,’ Queen Margrethe still found time, as an artist, to pursue her love for the creative process. The positive traits that she conveys not only as Queen, but also as a wife and mother, are the basis for the various challenges that the royal family encounters in ‘The Enchanted Mirrors’.”

Nielsen’s personal experiences are evident throughout this work.

“Most of the character names are actually names of my Dan­ish aunts, cousins, and even the Royal Danish Family,” he said. “The mischievous Nisse elves, which were always a fascination to me during my Christmas vacations in Denmark, as well as one of my favorite dishes, Frikadeller (Danish meatballs), have been incorporated in the creation of this script.”

The most exciting part of the whole experience for Nielsen was working with Jacque Wheeler and Kimberly Holt, both communication arts professors, and having Dr. Shrader compose the choreodrama’s musical score.

“I was immediately captivated by the story and the contemporary innovations that professor Nielsen incorporated into the story line,” Dr. Shrader said. “When I learned that professor Nielsen was looking for a composer to write the score for ‘The Enchanted Mirrors,’ I invited him to my office where I played one of my ‘Really Short Operas’ entitled ‘Frogs Always Get You in the End.’ Apparently he liked the music, because he asked me to write the score for ‘Enchanted Mirrors’ and gave me a copy of the script and some of his ideas of content.”

Dr. Shrader encourages everyone to attend, not just those with small children.

“I find the production to be extremely interesting on a variety of levels,” he said. “There are lessons here to be learned by everyone, not just children. The audience will find well-defined and clear staging, interesting and precise choreography, and wonderful costumes and props. It is a sheer delight!”

Performances will be Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 10:30 a.m. in Sawyer Theatre. For more information or to purchase tickets, call the box office at (229) 333-5973.

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