April 7, 2023 | ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT | By Brett LeVan
Madison Dillon ’23, a Dance and Performance Design double major, took a chance on a few strangers and some friends to bring her senior dance thesis to life – Nadia Jackson as the sibling, Holly Wenger as the mother, Willo Abel Burglechner as the father, Brett LeVan as the narrator, and Beth Thompson as the understudy for the sibling and the narrator.
On Nov. 1, Dillon sent out an email for auditions to a group of students who had indicated that they might be interested in participating in her thesis. Soon after auditioning, I was cast as the narrator. Now, almost six months later and six hours of rehearsals each week, “The Distance Between” will premier April 7 and April 8 at 7:30 p.m. in Cossitt Gym.
In the beginning I only had a rough idea of what I was auditioning for, so what I was hoping for was to heal my inner dancer and be a part of a dedicated group of artists. I never thought I would dance again after graduating high school and taking a gap year, but when I heard about Dillon’s thesis, I knew it was going to be special – and honestly, special is an understatement.
“The Distance Between” follows a family of four through a day in their life around their kitchen table.
When reflecting on the internal ideas surrounding her thesis, Dillon writes, “the heart of this story is about communication. No matter how good we are at explaining or listening, there will always be a gap in understanding because we all have different experiences.”
This idea is present in the rehearsal and creation of the final performance, as well as through Dillon’s trust in five individuals to showcase her idea. In collaboration with the new cast, the details and story have changed a bit, yet the core of “The Distance Between” is the same as it was in the beginning.
Dillon started thinking of her dance thesis freshman year after she choreographed a four-minute dance to a spoken word piece about gaps in communication.
When reflecting on both pieces, she writes, “even the best communicators and best listeners will interpret their conversation differently because we all live different lives. The moments when those gaps are big and when they’re small, and when they’re perceived as such, really interested me then and still do now.”
While I am a bit biased because I dance the roll of the narrator, Dillon’s thesis reflects a true connection but also a beautiful divide between a family. “The Distance Between” falls nothing short of human, raw, and emotional, and Dillon writes that she wants the audience to leave feeling human – something I feel strongly as I dance alongside three other incredible individuals, telling the story around a kitchen table of a birthday and a glass of spilled milk.
Something special about Dillon’s thesis is that the music we dance to was all composed by Caleb Richard, a recent alum of Colorado College. I am amazed every day at how effortlessly and incredibly Dillon’s vision came to life through a group of people who cared. There is a special insider sentiment for me as a dancer in a production choreographed solely by one individual mastermind; in other words, an almost 30-minute dance requires nothing but applause, and I feel lucky to bear witness to it.
Dillon reflects on her dancers, writing, “my dancers are INCREDIBLE. I can’t even put it into words. Their strengths and the personal perspective they bring to this process shape my choreography and the characters in the story…They have created this story as much as I have.” I am thankful every day that she trusted us to dance her vision to life.
“The Distance Between” will be showcased this weekend, April 7 and 8 at 7:30 p.m. in Cossitt Gym.