An Interview with Student Choreographer Sam Horning

08 Sam DancingThe Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance December Dance Concert features select student choreography.  Many students submit their pieces for consideration, but only a few are included in the concert.  The Bonstelle Theatre sat down with Samuel Horning, one of the selected student choreographers, to find out more about him and his work.

Tell us about your December Dance Concert piece?

It’s about how you build a family.  What is the foundation of a family or anything?  It’s about the relationships that we have with each other.

 How did you come to decide on this theme?

When I came in, I had a basic idea that I wanted to use somewhere between 6 to 8 dancers and a table as a prop. I was going to create a dance that I felt would provide some sort of harmony between the dancers.  That’s something I’ve been very interested in, finding harmony, and not just a one level relationship on stage. I wanted something that went deeper than just the skin.

At the beginning I was working with a lot of choreographic tools and developing work, but I had no trajectory toward how I felt the piece was going to end. Then the dancers and I had a discussion about the subject of the dance.  What is it about?   What is it that I’m making? It really took off from there.

We did this amazing exercise where I left the room and my dancers choreographed what I already made. They played with it and mixed it up a bit.  They made this whole new thing and from there I knew what my dance was about.  I knew what it wanted to be.

How long have you been a dancer?

I have been a dancer for 5 years, three of which have been at Wayne State.

How did you get into dance?

I was in a humanities course in high school in which we had a specific focus group on dance. The people in my class had to investigate dance from the 1920s. It just sort of sparked interest for me. I was going to be a plastic surgeon and then the next day I was going to be a dancer.

Are there specific styles of dance you prefer?

I would definitely consider myself more of a ballet, contemporary, and modern dancer. I also like a lot of experimental dance.

What do you find most rewarding about being a choreographer?

Just looking at my dance when it’s finished and saying “I did that.”  Or, in this case where I worked so collaboratively with my dancers, “I facilitated that.”  I created that rapport between my dancers. I was able to bring them to this level. It’s the same thing when I teach dance, you see a student and something clicked with them,  or you did an exercise and they get something out of it.  It’s very rewarding.

Why did you choose dance at Wayne State University?

When I applied to universities, I needed a place with dance and pre-med programs. So it pretty much narrowed down to the University of Michigan and Wayne State University.  I was accepted at both UofM and Wayne State.

I had known some people who were in the Wayne State program that I looked up to and was beyond impressed. After I looked up the work that was occurring at Wayne State, I knew I needed that. Alumni of Wayne State I looked up to were dancing in New York and had made a future for themselves. I wanted that.

Do you feel WSU has prepared you for the future?

I would say yes, Wayne State has definitely prepared me for the future.  It’s been very rigorous for me in the best way.  I’ve been so totally immersed in everything that there’s no way not to be prepared for the future.  I noticed that when I leave and do activities outside of Wayne State I am very much more prepared than other students from other universities and programs which is a boost of confidence and is reassuring.

Any final thoughts?

In general, my time at Wayne State has been very eye-opening. I’ve dramatically changed both as a person and as an artist since I’ve been here.  It’s also very curious to see my fellow students that have grown with me since you work so closely with the people you are in the department with, and it’s so amazing to see the transformation of my fellow peers so that’s been incredible.

Performances are at the Bonstelle Theatre, 3424 Woodward Avenue, in midtown Detroit on Friday December 5th at 7:30pm and Sunday December 7th at 2:00pm. Tickets range from $10-$20 and are available by calling (313) 577-2960, online at, or at the Wayne State University Theatre Box Office at 4743 Cass Avenue on the corner of Hancock Street.


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