Student choreographer soars

Rehearsal for Violet Flight: Pursuit of Significance choreographed by Britta Joy Peterson (Photo: Hayley Brunetto)

Britta Joy Peterson, one of several student choreographers whose work will be featured during this weekend’s Breaking Ground student showcase at Tempe Center for the Arts, started tap and ballet classes in Minnesota when she was just seven years old. She moved to Arizona after earning an undergraduate degree in dance, and is now enrolled in ASU’s M.F.A. in dance program.

Peterson credits her parents with launching her love of the arts. Seems her mother enjoyed painting “natural things” in watercolor, and her father was a musician. Peterson is the youngest of three siblings, and all were expected growing up to be active in one arts activity and athletic activity. Dance, she says, counted for both.

Still, she chose to try lots of other things, including choir, softball, soccer and flag football — and spent ten years playing violin. “All those things,” reflects Peterson, “are a huge part of the artist I am now.” Peterson says she “fell in love with being creative” while participating in community theater.

Violet Flight: Pursuit of Significance rehearsal at ASU (Photo: Hayley Brunetto)

Performing in shows like “The Prince and the Pauper” and “Cabaret” was more fun, she recalls, than simply “regurgitating” routines she was learning in dance classes. So was scuba diving with her family in Mexico and New Zealand, and the skiing that fueled her love of jumping and flying through the air.

“My parents worked hard to expose us to the outdoors,” says Peterson. “My dad is an avid bird watcher.” Hence Peterson’s use of elements like feathers and sunsets in her choreography. Tonight Peterson and other dancers are rehearsing at ASU — readying for the 2pm Breaking Ground student showcase on Sat, Jan. 28.

“Recurring Reverie,” which is being performed on TCA’s north patio, was choreographed by Peterson in collaboration with Juan Rodriguez. They also perform the piece — which was inspired by each artist’s recurring dreams. Peterson calls it “an exploration of the human capacity for creativity,” adding that gender roles are a “minimum undertone.”

Peterson's Violet Flight: Pursuit of Significance (Photo: Hayley Brunetto)

The Breaking Ground student showcase concludes with eight dancers performing Peterson’s “Violet Flight: Pursuit of Significance.” Peterson describes the two works as “very different” and says she’s grateful to Carley Conder and CONDER/dance for giving students the opportunity to showcase  and share their work. “It’s important,” says Peterson, “for students across the Valley to exchange ideas.”

“I’m always synthesizing material in my head,” says Peterson, who thinks of herself as an “imaginative laboratory.” She’s a “big advocate of arts education” who says the arts have taught her to “think in many different ways.” Peterson is convinced that creativity and problem solving learned through the arts translate to science and a host of other fields.

“I’m lucky to have parents, and a community of people around me, who support my art endeavors,” reflects Peterson.

— Lynn

Note: Click here for 2012 Breaking Ground (which includes a 2pm student showcase and an 8pm professional showcase) details and ticket information

Coming up: Sneak peek at other 2012 Breaking Ground fare

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