St. Olaf College | News

Star Tribune features St. Olaf dance alumnus

St. Olaf dance major Timmy Wagner '11 in a dance performance surrounded by web-like green fabric.
St. Olaf dance major Timmy Wagner ’11 earned a glowing review from the Star Tribune for his most recent work with Arena Dance. Photo by Jake Armour from the Star Tribune.

A recent article in the Star Tribune highlights The Architect, a dance performance choreographed by Mathew Janczewski and St. Olaf College alumnus Timmy Wagner ’11 of Arena Dance.

Wagner, a dance major at St. Olaf, performed the piece solo “as homage to the collaboration between head, heart, and body,” notes Caroline Palmer, a dance critic writing for the Star Tribune.

Intense visual elements form vital components of the performance. Wagner danced in a white space often filled with colorful bands of fabric, stretched so tight individual fibers could be seen. Music, gentle lighting, and projected text completed the vibrant, thoughtful atmosphere.

Throughout the piece, Wagner moved in conversation with his surrounding environment. Palmer describes how “When a piece of fabric drifted to the ground, [Wagner] improvised another way to hold it aloft ā€” some of the falls were opening-night surprises, but they worked. Seeing Wagner thinking on his feet ā€” literally and figuratively ā€” provided a source of tension but also satisfaction.”

The Architect aims to show audiences the complex nature of bringing an artistic vision to life. The performances succeed in granting viewers a “a glimpse into the creative mind at work, a loving ode to the neurons that make it all possible,” Palmer writes.

Many of the skills Wagner possess today were built during his time with the St. Olaf Dance Department, which gives students a strong basis in physical, creative, and analytical skills. The department prepares students to flourish beyond college by teaching them to perform and manage, and work as freelance artists or as part of professional companies. Many dance graduates also go onto rewarding careers in fields from arts management to dance therapy to teaching.