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A preview of the Tower Dancers per­for­mance based on the physics research from outer space. Jordyn Pair | Col­legian

The Tower Dancers’ 2016 – 17 season came to a close this weekend after their annual concert, which fea­tured a dance set to music derived from radio signals of pulsars. Director Holly Hobbs said she was extremely proud of the dancers, chore­o­g­ra­phers, costume designers, and everyone else involved.

“I thought it was a won­derful show,” Hobbs said.

Hobbs, who chore­o­graphed the “Cosmic Res­o­nances” and “Carmina Burana” dances, credited an extra week of rehearsals and expressive costume design as two of many reasons for the show’s success.

“I really feel the extra week made a dif­ference for the dancers and chore­o­g­ra­phers,” Hobbs said. “They were able to take more time with their work, step back from it, and make changes.”

Cos­tumes for dances chore­o­graphed by Hobbs and Jillian Hopper were designed by Bryan Simmons, but Ria Harju designed cos­tumes for dances chore­o­graphed by stu­dents — seniors Sara Pezzella and Mikel Eatough and junior Sarah Eliz­abeth Casebeer.

“Harju did an amazing job matching the theme to the design of the costume, and it made the dance more acces­sible to audi­ences because it painted such a clear picture,” Hobbs said.

“Cosmic Res­o­nances,” the first dance of the evening, was one dance that empha­sized visual expres­siveness. Set to music com­posed from tones based on radio pulsar emission, “Res­o­nances” fea­tured dancers imi­tating the stars them­selves. Some dancers held flash­lights, and a pro­jector dis­played celestial images asso­ciated with the sounds.

“Taking a sci­en­tific idea and abstracting it into movement was just very rewarding, and some­thing that I’d never attempted before,” Hobbs said. “It was sort of a fun explo­ration for me.”

Pulsars are neutron stars that emit a beam of radio waves from their poles. Since the star itself spins on an axis, the beam has a light­house effect, seen from the Earth as reg­u­larly repeating pulses. The bursts are pre­dictable, and follow, for the most part, a set period of time. One pulsar’s wave, for example, reaches Earth every 1.37 seconds.

The music comes from Dawn Erb, an asso­ciate pro­fessor of Physics at Uni­versity of Wis­consin-Mil­waukee, who used the audible expression of a pulsar’s radio beam as the inspi­ration behind several musical com­po­si­tions. One such is “Light­houses II,” the musical piece used in the Tower Dancers concert.

Assistant Pro­fessor of Physics Timothy Dolch, who was a tech­nical advisor for Hobbs on the pulsar dance, said he first dis­cussed the idea of setting Erb’s music to the Tower Dancers after a talk on finding beauty in aca­demic fields.

“I really loved the dance,” Dolch said. “It was very dark and oth­er­worldly, like the music is and like pulsars are; it was just so intriguing.”

Dolch explained that parts of the dance, like pairs of dancers inter­acting with one another, accu­rately reflected the real-life nature of pulsars which helped syn­chronize the science of pulsars with the art of dance.

“Chore­og­raphy is all about taking an idea and dis­tilling it to an essence, which allows me to chore­o­graph about any­thing,” Hobbs said. “Each dance sort of evolves, and when you have that sense of wonder about a topic, it helps propel you in the future.”

Eleven dancers are grad­u­ating this year, and senior Tower Dancer Corianna Baier, who danced in “Res­o­nances,” as well as “Fem­i­ninity” and “Out of Ash (Excerpt),” said she will miss the troupe after leaving Hillsdale.

“As a senior, the show was exciting but bit­ter­sweet,” Baier said. “The rehearsal process was long, but I, and all the other seniors, loved every second of it because we knew it would be the last time we rehearsed for a show. This year was extremely dynamic and each piece was unique and beau­tiful in its own way. It was a great show to have as my last.”