The Chapman University Department of Dance ended its academic year last weekend on May 5 and 6 with the Spring Dance Concert. This concert, directed by Liz Curtis and Jennifer Backhaus, debuted the choreography of 11 senior BFA dance majors. We connected with choreographer Cole Neville to talk about his Chapman experience and the story behind his concert piece.

Cole’s piece was about forming an individual’s internal identity as impacted by various mental struggles. He hoped the audience would watch this identity and the inhabitants of the mind go through phases of self-exploration, anguish, and loss of self. Then ends in triumph when the identity emerges strong and self-assured on the other side. When asking Cole about his choreographic process, he stated that he does not have a particular method or process in his work. He prefers to start with the music of a piece. It allows for the textures, dynamics, and timing to guide him on what to do. The music allows for some direction in the piece rather than a blank slate. After choosing music, he has two different starting points. Sometimes he lets the music fill his mind, and other times begins with a shape or movement phrase to place onto his dancers.

Although he uses these different techniques simultaneously, he is not immune to creative blocks. His creative blocks can sometimes be overcome by just laying on the floor and letting it pass. Other times he likes to step away from the project. Cole said taking time away from the project rather than pushing through is beneficial. Sometimes that means going for a walk, maybe switching over to work on another project that may sound more inspiring at the time, or sometimes just going to sleep.

In his academic career at Chapman, Cole said Choreo 1 and Choreo 2 aided in expanding his skills. The first course focuses on solo choreography, while the second focuses on group work. He said that the instructor feedback and the amount of practice were very helpful for artistic growth.

Cole will graduate next weekend with a Dance Performance BFA and a Creative and Cultural Industries minor. He is excited to continue his love for performing and creating art. He is open to many artistic options, from Broadway to Coachella to movies. Keep an eye out for Cole Neville in the future.