Grant funds help student to choreograph concert


    Visualizing their steps, seven dancers wait patiently for the music to start. Their choreographer watches in anticipation to see her routine brought to life.

    Krista Jennings, a senior ballet/modern dance and writing major, is directing and producing her own dance concert, “Six of One, Half Dozen of the Other.” Jennings said she was the recipient of one of 12 grants from the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Initiative.

    “I’ve always been really interested in choreography, and I wanted a chance to really work on some new work and also redo some old stuff I’d done before,” Jennings said. “Time is money, and I was given a lot more freedom with the grant.”

    Each year, students may apply for the grant to do research in their chosen career field. The grant, in its second year, is part of the 2006 Transformational Funded Grants budget under the TCU Vision in Action Strategic Initiative Fund, according to the VIA Web site.

    The Web site states the fund was created by Chancellor Victor Boschini in 2003 to help TCU become an “increasingly more significant private university with greater international presence.” The Web site also states that projects using transformational funds are expected “to transform the nature of the institution.”

    Bonnie Melhart, associate provost of Academic Affairs, is overseeing the grant and said the grant was designed to promote scholarly activity by undergraduates in each of the colleges within TCU.

    “This is really to motivate, to give a little push and say, ‘If you can, here’s something to entice you into the research and creative activity arena,'” Melhart said.

    Melhart said the grant requires the recipient to have a faculty mentor who would meet with them every week for advice on the project. Susan Douglas Roberts, associate professor of modern dance, has assisted Jennings on various aspects of the concert in its planning stages.

    “We have a weekly meeting, and I let her direct where the meeting will go,” Roberts said. “She defines the challenges, and I come in to challenge her more.”

    The money she has spent on costumes and advertising has made the show look professional, Jennings said.

    “A lot of times, because of the budget, you end up creating things that seem very informal,” Jennings said. “I wanted to really be able to make it as if this were my own company and I were putting on a performance.”

    Jennings said she saw the grant advertised in a campuswide e-mail and decided to apply in November. After winning the $1,250 grant in December, Jennings said she started to work on the show as soon as possible with several dancers. To give Jennings time to plan her previous choreography for restaging, rehearsals began nearly a week before the spring semester started.

    “We’ve been working for half an hour to an hour per week,” Jennings said. “A lot of these dancers are really in high demand. I didn’t want it to take up their chance to do other things.”

    The cast consists of 13 ballet/modern dance majors and two TCU dance alumni. Summer McGowan, a sophomore modern dance major, said Jennings asked her to dance in two of the show’s pieces.

    “Krista is really into detail, but she’s positive too,” McGowan said. “I think it’s going to be a fun show.”

    Jennings choreographed each of the six dances within the last three years, two of which were done this year. One of the more recent pieces is Jennings’ senior dance project, a theatrical piece about women and their clothing titled “LBD,” which will also be performed in the Senior Studio dance concert this month. Music selections range from classical to Billy Joel.

    “I feel like these are all good, solid pieces that show what’s important to me as a choreographer,” Jennings said. “They show what I can do.”

    For Your Info

    “Six of One, Half Dozen of the Other” 8212; a concert of works choreographed by Krista Jennings
    When: 7 p.m. April 29
    Where: Studio B Theatre, Dance Building
    Admission: Free