Fluorescent lights, candles, drop-down dresses and abstract representations of biological processes contribute to the great variety in this year's December Dance Show. The Department of Theater and Dance presents an annual end-of semester December show that displays the final projects and works of its dance repertory and choreography classes. The performances began last night and will continue tonight and Saturday night.

"Often times, we have invited student groups [to perform] but because of the choreography class and the independent study, we have a full program," said Production Coordinator of the Theater and Dance Department Joan Sand.

New to the Theater and Dance department's course listings this semester is Choreography for Dancers, which has required intensive work from experienced students. Students in this class will perform four original pieces: "Three Possibilities", "Game Structure", "Together and Apart" and "Choreographic Improvisation."

In addition to the new choreography course offering, an independent study in choreography conducted by seniors Alexandra Pfister and Elisa Kim is also featured. The piece, "Biomes", explores processes of cellular biology through dance and movement.

While at Bowdoin, biology major and dance minor Pfister has taken dance technique and repertory classes. Also a biology major, Kim did not have any dance experience before Bowdoin, and began her dance career with Dance 112 during her first year at the College.

"I needed a break from lab work. [Dance] was really fun and I kept taking it at least once a year and then I started taking intermediate," Kim said. "This is my first time choreographing, which has been quite challenging."

Once Pfister and Kim got support from Senior Lecturer in Dance Performance Paul Sarvis to conduct their independent study, they contacted Bowdoin science professors, seeking interest and possible involvement. Associate Professor of Biology and Biochemistry Anne McBride, Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience Rick Thompson, Assistant Professor of Biology and Neuroscience Hadley Horch, and Lecturer in Physics and Astronomy Karen Topp responded with enthusiasm and have contributed to the piece.

The performance also includes six students, including Kim and Pfister, and two children of professors.

Kim described the performance as a modern dance piece with some hip-hop and jazz motifs. She and Pfister worked as directors, giving their dancers ample freedom in choosing their own unique movement.

"We give them the overarching frame and then we pick out what we want them to do," Kim said.

Though the piece is serious in its aim—using movement to represent biological concepts—parts of it are intentionally comical.

"We started out brainstorming about different [biology] processes that might be able to be translated into dance," Pfister said. "It's supposed to be fun. We wanted people watching it to be able to appreciate it for the dance as well as to be able to recognize some of the biological processes in it."

The piece is divided into six sections: "Bio 101," "Lab," "Slime mold: separately together," "A viral duet," "Immune attack" and "High in Protein," beginning with the processes of macro biology and ending with microbiology.

"The overall idea is that cells are working separately or against each other, translated onto human bodies," Pfister said. "It begins with professors in lab and then it gets crazy! [We] get sucked into the world of biology because they make it so interesting for us."

The show also includes performances choreographed by both Senior Lecturers in Dance Gwyneth Jones and Paul Sarvis for each level of dance repertory.

Dance 112 is performing a piece entitled "Last Light" and Dance 212 is dancing to music by the Quartette Indigo in a piece entitled SEXTET-á-têtes. Dance 312 is presenting a piece entitled "Blue," which includes five sections and features dresses that drop down from the theater's flyers.

The December Dance Show will run at Pickard Theater tonight and Saturday night at 8 p.m. Tickets are free of charge and may be picked up at the Smith Union information desk.