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Diving for their art: RHS Modern Company presents Merging Forms Friday night

A group of Rosemount High School dancers threw themselves into their most recent performance by throwing themselves out of an airplane.

The students are members of the RHS Modern Company, a troupe of advanced dancers. They strapped on parachutes in preparation for Merging Forms, a Friday night show that draws inspiration from activities such as Lazer Tag, martial arts and falling out of the sky. Students took those activities and used the motions and feelings they inspired to create dance pieces.

They will present the results, which the dancers describe as fast-moving and varied, at 7 p.m. June 6 at Rosemount High School's performing arts center. The show runs about an hour.

All proceeds from the show will go to Very Special Arts of Minnesota, a non-profit organization that helps involve disabled people in the arts.

The approach to this year's performances was a change for the students. In the past dance teacher Christina Morris has assigned students to choreograph individual pieces. They'd go away and look for inspiration, then come back and share with the other dancers. Morris still assigned students to lead efforts to organize each piece in Merging Forms, but students worked together to figure out the details.

"It was more of a collaboratively choreographed show," said dancer Amy Davis.

There was also a lot more research. Students studied the activities that inspired their pieces. They took classes in capoeira, a Brazilian martial art, and went rock climbing. They worked with track athletes to study the steps involved in doing a high jump or clearing a hurdle. They played Lazer Tag. And the students who were old enough went skydiving last week.

Pieces are meant to incorporate some of the movements involved in each activity, but also the emotions students felt while taking part.

Students said experiencing the activities first hand helped them prepare for the show.

"We have more emotion in our performance," Davis said.

Preparing for the show has also brought students closer together. Jumping out of a plane together has that effect.

"Just being able to do it with everybody has been the best part," said dancer Lizzy Luckhardt.

The show has its challenges. Most of the dancers are in every piece, which means a lot of fast costume changes. But all seem confident things are coming together.

"It's a difficult show, but we're really working hard for it," said dancer Kelsey Kane.