Showcasing in style
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From April 7-9, University students performed in a dance showcase for fellow students, faculty, and family members in Tustin Studio Theatre. The Choreographer’s Showcase featured an array of dances choreographed by students enrolled in the class “Dance Composition,” as well as pieces by faculty members and guest artists. Dancers of all experience levels rehearsed about 1-2 hours per week per piece they were cast in.
Throughout the weekend there were three shows: April 7 at 7:30 p.m., April 8 at 2 p.m., and April 9 at 2 p.m. The show featured an array of dance styles, including modern, hip-hop, ballet, contemporary, jazz, Irish stepdancing, and musical theater.
“The show was phenomenal. All of the performers did an electric job; it really looked like they put in a lot of effort. I really loved the play-type dance, it was very entertaining and different,” Samuel Stager ’18 said.
Each class practiced multiple times a week to master their dances.
“We have class on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 12:22 p.m., where we worked on our moves and choreography for the dance slowly throughout the whole semester. Since we spent so long practicing the moves in class, the only difficult part was remembering the choreography on stage but doing the moves themselves felt fairly easy,” Trevor Kunz ’19 said.
For many of the dancers, this was not their first showcase.
Student Director Lizzy Suczewski ’17 expressed her devotion to the University’s dance program. She has been involved in dance since the young age of four and is elated to have had the opportunity to continue her passion here at the University.
“We love performing and taking classes and cannot imagine doing anything else,” Suczewski said.
“I’ve been performing since I was little, so being on stage is natural to me,” Emily Shapiro ’19 said. “This semester in showcase was different for me, however, because the residency piece I was in was more of a musical theatre number. Many modern dance pieces I have been in before require seriousness, but this number allowed me to smile and act as a character.”
For others, this was a brand new experience.
“When I signed up to take hip-hop this semester, I didn’t realize I was going to have to perform in the showcase,” Christina L’Insalata ’17, a biomedical engineering student, said. But after endless hours of practicing during classes, L’Insalata finally felt confident in her ability to remember the entire routine onstage during the performance. “Practicing, and dancing in general, became my favorite hour and a half of class during the week to the point where I would go home and show all my friends parts of our dance.”
Although the production seemed effortless, the beauty of the students’ performances on stage does require a devotion of time and effort.
“Rehearsals are a lot of fun. It is great to be part of the choreographic process and watch movement transform from just steps into a full length piece in just a few weeks,” Suczewski said.
Preparing for the show was a rewarding experience, and very enjoyable for many of the dancers.
“I had a lot of fun practicing our dance moves. My favorite activity was separating into groups of four during warm-ups and alternating between each of us doing improvisation hip hop moves to different music. It was always a blast,” Kunz said.
Although the showcase is over, the students’ journey is not yet finished. Each class has a year-end project to complete. In Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre & Dance Shondrika Moss-Bouldin’s hip-hop dance class, each student has to complete a song log of 50 hip-hop songs that inspire them.
The weekend of April 28-29 will bring another magnificent dance collaboration, performed by the University’s Dance Company. The Spring Dance Concert will be directed by Associate Professor of Dance Kelly Knox and held in the Weis Center for the Performing Arts. The weekly time commitment is more extensive for this concert, where dancers are rehearsing approximately two to four hours per week per piece they are cast in.
The Dance Company’s Spring Dance Concert is the mainstage production under the department of theatre and dance; hence, there are additional requirements expected for the dancers in the Dance Company. Dancers must be enrolled in a technique class and a quarter-credit repertory class as well as attend all concert dance performances and master classes, including a weekly Sunday master class.
Dance has the power to give viewers a different perspective on learning that many other classes and performances cannot. If you missed this weekend’s performances, be sure to check out the upcoming shows from April 28-29.