Jennifer Huffman and Omar Olivas Visit SIUE

Jennifer Huffman and Omar Olivas working with students at SIUEFor the past three weeks the SIUE Department of Theater and Dance has been host to special guest Jennifer Huffman and Omar Olivas. During their time at SIUE the two dance instructors gave guest lectures in all levels of dance classes and worked with advanced students to set a piece for this spring’s “Dance in Concert.” The team visited SIUE last year and set “Bar” featured in last year’s “Dance in Concert;” due to the positive response to “Bar” Kristin Best asked to duo back to stage another piece this year.

Huffman is a Missouri native who graduated from Webster University in Saint Louis, since then she has gone into perform professionally in Chicago, New York, and is currently performing with Diavolo a world renown acrobatic dance company based out of Los Angeles. Diavolo is known for their physically demanding acrobatic maneuvers and their use of elaborate set pieces.

Huffman’s partner and fiance Olivas has an equally impressive resume graduating from the University of California and having performed worldwide. Olivas currently works with Diavolo as well. The two began teaching workshops together a little over a year ago in the hopes of being able to spread their style of choreography to the next generation of dancers.

“We’re trying to establish something of our own we can take to different universities around the country,” Huffman shared.

Still a work in progress Huffman was reluctant to go into too many specifics on the piece being created for this spring’s “Dance in Concert.”

“The story is starting to come together, we’re telling the students to think about it for themselves as they’re moving through it,” Huffman explained, “it’s definitely a collaboration with the students, we like to feature their strengths and talents.”

The piece is the first original piece that Huffman and Olivas have worked on together that is set entirely on the floor without the use of elaborate Diavolo style platforms. The piece will feature their unique combination of modern dance with athletic movement and has been putting SIUE’s advanced dance students through their paces.

“It’s a great challenge for these students,” Best shared, “it’s really wiping them into shape.”

Despite the challenges Huffman and Olivas were pleased with the efforts being put forward by SIUE dance students of all levels.

“I don’t think we’d be able to set this work on any dancers that aren’t at this level, it’s for advanced dancers,” Huffman shared, “They’ve really done well here.”

While Olivas and Huffman’s stay at SIUE has now ended, the students they’ve been working with will continue to refine their piece for this springs “Dance in Concert” which will be on stage at SIUE April tenth through fourteenth.

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