Soon after she learned to walk, Katie Ingebretsen learned to dance. She was 2 at the time, and she has danced ever since.
"Dance really just takes over your life, and it changes your life in ways that are pretty remarkable," Ingebretsen said.
A senior at William and Mary, Ingebretsen is president of Orchesis Dance Company, a facet of the Department of Theatre, Speech and Dance.
But she's a biology major, and like many Orchesis members, she's not pursuing dance professionally.
They dance for the love of dance. It's a part of them.
From March 24-26, Orchesis presents its annual spring production "An Evening of Dance" on the Phi Beta Kappa stage.
While the fall production featured faculty works, "An Evening of Dance" is unique for its student choreography. Ten students will premiere 11 works, danced by the 25 members of Orchesis.
"It's a different dynamic to have a peer and a friend also be a choreographer," Ingebretsen said. "It's another level of sort of respect that we have for each other."
Ingebretsen estimated only four Orchesis members are studying dance — William and Mary offers a dance minor. The rest study a range of topics from math to anthropology. Since early November, they've gathered weekly to rehearse and choreograph an "An Evening of Dance."
Through modern dance, "you really can tell a story," Ingebretsen said.
The concepts of each piece vary widely. "The Modern Expanse," by Sarah Collier, addresses outer space, incorporating elements of science, religion and solidarity. Alexa Hinrichs' piece, "Going Nowhere Quickly," explores something a little closer to home: the turmoil of growing up and figuring out life's next steps. "Praise Within Shadows" by Arisa Smith combines Japanese art and culture with modern dance movements. Ingebretson's finale, "Kaleidoscopic," mimics symmetry and pattern seen within kaleidoscopes.
Audiences may interpret pieces differently, though. That's okay. In fact, that's the hope.
The meaning behind modern dance isn't always obvious, said Sophia Perrotti, vice president of Orchesis: "It means different things to different people."
But the meaning an audience member draws from the piece, the feeling it evokes, is just as valuable as what the choreographer intended, Perrotti said.
"It sparks conversation," Ingebretsen said. "It sparks your own imagination."
For Orchesis members who graduate in May, this year's "An Evening of Dance" holds special significance.
"It's a little bittersweet," Ingebretsen said. "You don't know if you're going to have the opportunity to perform again."
Even so, any uncertainty, any worries, will likely fade onstage. Because when dancing, Ingebretsen described, you can just be, living in the moment and the movement.
Dancers and choreographers will return to the stage following Thursday's performance for a question-and-answer session open to the public.
For more information about Orchesis, visit wmpeople.wm.edu/orchesis.
Bridges can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342.
Want to go?
When: 7:30 p.m., Thursday-Saturday, March 24-26
Where: Phil Beta Kappa Memorial Hall, 601 Jamestown Road
Tickets: $15/adults, $7/students and children, $12/military and $10/groups of 10 or more. Available by phone at 221-2674, online at wm.edu/boxoffice or in person at PBK Hall, open 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesday-Friday, and 10 a.m.-15 minutes after curtain on performance days.