The company consists of individuals joined through their mutual love of dance. Orchesis provides exciting performing and educational opportunities, develops artistic and personal growth, and cultivates strong bonds and lasting friendships. Many veteran members return to audition every year, some remaining four to five years with the company before graduating from Cal Poly.
Company members and guest dancers perform a variety of dance styles, including Modern, Jazz, Ballet, Hip Hop, Tap, World, and Social dance forms. Dances are choreographed by faculty, guest artists and students. Student choreography is selected through an audition process after company membership is established.
The main focus of fall and winter activities is the production of the winter dance concert. This annual concert generally takes place the fourth and fifth academic week of winter quarter for a total of six performances at the Cal Poly Spanos Theatre. Approximately 2,500 audience members attend this production yearly. Other performance activities include community concerts, American College Dance Festival, and Cal Poly Open House performances among others.
Cal Poly’s Orchesis Dance Company features notable professional guest choreographers each year who create original choreography for the Orchesis dancers. Past professionals include: Wade Madsen, Nancy Cranbourne, Mark A. Haines, Mike Esperanza, Keith Johnson, Holly Johnson, Doug Nielsen, Damon Rago, Chad Michael Hall, Christopher Vo, and others.
A native Korean, Moon Ja Minn Suhr was born in China and lived in Japan until the age of five when she moved back to Seoul, Korea. She received a Masters degree in Dance from Ewha Women's University in Seoul, Korea. She taught dance for four years before she came to the United States in 1967.
Dr. Suhr received her Masters degree in Dance Education from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley in 1969. In the same year, she came to Cal Poly as a dance faculty member, and also founded the Orchesis Dance Company. In 1988, Dr. Suhr received her Ph.D. degree in Dance and Related Arts from Texas Woman's University in Denton.
Dr. Suhr directed the Orchesis Dance Company for 30 years, from 1970 to 2000.