Perpich News

Perpich Arts High School Dance Program presents “Threshold”

May 15, 2023

Perpich Arts High School Dance Program presented “Threshold” on May 11 and May 12, 2023. The spring concert was the culmination of a semester of work. The dancers demonstrated their creativity, choreographic skills, and performance expertise in 22 student choreographed works, and two guest works. The works ranged in style, musical choice, and intention. The title, ”Threshold”, refers to a point of departure, a transition. The dancers created work that illuminates this stage of their lives. The dances ranged from haunting to harsh, from dynamic to fluid, from formal to fun.

Threshold: “a point of departure, a transition”


Choreography by the students and guest artists: Davente Gilreath (Dance 2010) and Penelope Freeh

  • Eight dancers from eight Minnesota communities
  • Twenty-two student choreographed dances
  • Two guest artists
  • A million ideas of inspiration
  • One community
  • Two priceless evenings

Ahead of the concert, the dancers shared the following thoughts:

“In this week’s upcoming show, ‘Threshold’, I am reminded of how and why dance entered my life. As a senior approaching the end of high school, I am taking the time to reflect and focus my energy on what’s important. In the world of dance, we often communicate our range of feelings to an audience through choreographed movement. The movement in ‘Threshold’ represents that range of feeling and we, as ourselves and as a community, represent the joy of what it feels like to dance every day. This joy is how and why I dance.” ~Ana Plucar (Dance 2023)

“This year in the Perpich dance program, I have learned so much about who I am as a dancer. We’ve talked about our personal ‘dancer identities’ throughout the year. Why we dance, what message do we want to send, what does it mean to dance, etc. ‘Threshold’ beautifully showcases all of our dancer identities solo and as a group.” ~Estelle Bolier (Dance 2024)

“I often choreograph with inspiration from a researched topic. Last semester being a piece representing the anatomy and function of the human brain and its major factions. This semester, with the exception of my duet with Jamie Kraft inspired by elasticity, I have worked on creating a piece more personal to me. The space I have to grow in the Perpich dance program has made me feel supported and encouraged to experiment with these topics in movement. I feel honored to work with the class of this year and look forward to seeing how our show, ‘Threshold’, unfolds.” ~Lee Christianson (Dance 2023)

“As I approach my final showcase at Perpich, I recognize my immense growth as a dancer over the past two years. For me, ‘Threshold’ encapsulates what I have learned as a dancer, and what I hope to apply in my future studies. I am so grateful to have worked with such an inspiring group of movers, and am eager to give the audience a glimpse into the work we do in the studio. The Perpich dance community’s dedication to both art and each other is beyond words, and something I’ll always value.” ~Reese Walts (Dance 2023)

“Over the course of this past year, I’ve been very privileged to dance and grow in such a supportive space. Through my community in the Perpich dance program, I’ve been able to watch as my dancer identity shifted and molded into the person on stage today. ‘Threshold’ embodies this sense of change, growth, and community. We’ve created such a beautiful expression of our connection to ourselves, each other, and dance and I couldn’t be prouder.” ~Bryn Fitzgerald-Wells (Dance 2023)

“This show is so incredibly special to me. Being able to share our growth and love for dance with my best friends is so amazing. Our show is a perfect example of everyone’s passion and individuality in dance. I can’t wait for everyone to see!!” ~Fiona Cheever (Dance 2023)

“This year at Perpich has significantly improved my dancing skills. Additionally, the fantastic community we have built has enabled me to elevate my dancing to an entirely new level! This year has been very hard for me. However, everyone is very supportive and amazing, which has made my experience at Perpich great!” ~Elyse Ulmen (Dance 2024)

“I’m beyond excited about this show. I’m so grateful for the journey I’ve been on this year with the other 7 dancers, and this show really represents it. I’ll be sad to leave these beautiful people in a couple weeks, but I will never forget this experience and this year. I love each and every one of them. Enjoy the show!” ~Jamie Kraft (Dance 2023)

In the show program, Mary Harding, Dance Instructor, said, “The seniors are graduating, scattering across the country. The juniors are moving up into leadership. The dancers are entering new doors, new spaces. They are wandering through the liminal spaces that will lead them to the next adventure and the next. As they travel their pathways, as their journey wends forward, they influence and are influenced. And these changes happen at the moments of intersection, when energy lines connect and move on, like chakras. Thank you for being at this confluence of energy tonight.”

Davente Gilreath was born and raised in Minnesota. He began his dance training at Perpich Center for Arts Education where he was exposed to various forms and styles of dance including modern, ballet, jazz, African, and contact improvisation. Gilreath then furthered his career and studies in dance at the University of Minnesota where he received his BFA in Dance studying from professors such as Ananya Chatterjea, Erin Thompson, and Toni Pierce‐Sands. During the pursuit of his degree, he was also able to perform and create work with local Minnesota‐based companies such as Contempo Physical Dance and Threads Dance Project. Gilreath Joined Garth Fagan Dance in 2014 and, during his eight years with the company, he was promoted to senior company member and appointed the Director of the Garth Fagan Dance Student Ensemble. He also taught Intermediate/Advanced Fagan Technique for the Garth Fagan Dance School and for the Garth Fagan Summer Movement Institute. Gilreath is now a dance instructor at The University of Minnesota.

Choreographer Penelope Freeh is a two-time McKnight Artist Fellow and a SAGE Awardee for Outstanding Performer. She has been commissioned by James Sewell Ballet, Minnesota Ballet, Gem City Ballet, Minnesota Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Walker Art Center/Southern Theater’s Momentum, and Russia’s Link Vostok Dance Festival, among others. She frequently works with opera and musical theater groups including Skylark Opera, Nautilus Music Theater, and Mu Performing Arts. She has created several works with composer Jocelyn Hagen, including Test Pilot, a chamber dance opera about the Wright Brothers and the birth of aviation, which will tour MN this fall. Penelope danced with James Sewell Ballet for seventeen years, serving as Artistic Associate from 2007 to 2011. She teaches at the University of Minnesota, the St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, TU Dance, and Zenon. Ms. Freeh has previously danced in Minnesota Opera productions of AidaRomeo and Juliet, and Nixon in China.

Estelle Bolier – St. Paul, MN
Fiona Cheever – Cold Spring, MN
Lee Christianson – Halstad, MN
Bryn Fitzgerald-Wells – Grand Marais, MN
Jamie Kraft – St. Louis Park, MN
Ana Plucar – Plymouth, MN
Elyse Ulmen – Madelia, MN
Reese Walts – Minneapolis, MN

Dance Instructor – Mary Harding
Lighting Designer & Sound Board Operator – Ellie Simonett
Guest Choreographers – Davente Gilreath (Dance 2010) and Penelope Freeh