GVSU Dance Company to perform spring concert

By Taylor Crowley | 4/19/18 1:46am

GVL / Emily Frye GVSU Dance Recital rehearsal on Thursday November 30, 2017.

The Grand Valley State University Dance Company and the Freshman Dance Company are preparing their performances for their spring dance concert this upcoming weekend. The concert, which will be held at the Thomas J. and Marcia J. Haas Center for Performing Arts, is set for Saturday, April 21, at 7 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

The dancers have been devoting the past two weeks to exhausting rehearsals for nearly four hours each day. Despite this, the dancers are eager to show the GVSU community what they have been working on. 

The concert will feature many different styles of ballet, including pointe, contemporary, modern and styles brought in from guest artists. One of the pieces will even feature technology in the performance: A student will film the dancer so the audience members can watch them live on the large screen that will be placed in front of them. This type of technology incorporation has not been done during any previous dance concert.

The Freshman Dance Company is split into two groups for this performance. Isa Wishart, freshman dancer, auditioned with her peers and was chosen to be invited into one of the groups. 

“We were chosen into the group and were asked to write down, on a piece of paper, what our passions were,” Wishart said. 

Based on the passions the dancers wrote down, they were asked to choreograph a solo that would be featured in the group dance. The title of this piece came to be “Breaking Silence” to show the audience a passion through movement.

Wishart at first chose to focus on her passion for the respect of other people, starting small and ending with bigger issues. 

“I wanted to show respect as being even just saying 'hi' to your classmate, but also can be on a much bigger scale, like preventing gun violence or racial attacks,” Wishart said. “This was a good thought, but it was hard to portray this through movement.”

Wishart ended up further developing her solo piece to portray the lack of respect for mental illness in today’s society. She explained that emotions can be very well understood by body language, and the audience can typically pick up the themes of the performance. 

The dancers had to audition for their pieces, chosen by faculty dancers and guest artists. For every concert, the GVSU Dance Company invites guest artists to visit for a week in order to choreograph and teach the student dancers the performance pieces.

This concert features the teachings of three guest artists: Zelma Badu-Younge, Jessica Pittman and Roger Van Fleteran. 

Badu-Younge brought a different style to the GVSU dancers for this concert. Being from Africa, Badu-Younge incorporates West African traditional dances and other world forms into modern dances today. 

Allison Egrin, a dancer in the GVSU Dance Company, said it is important to recognize what GVSU, especially this specific program, has to offer. 

“We get to work with a bunch of different people from different backgrounds, from all over,” Egrin said. “It’s great for networking. The dance world is really small, so once you make connections at auditions, other people know people and it goes on from there.”

Egrin encourages GVSU students to come watch their peers and experience live dance differently. She said she feels strongly about seeing what other students are working toward on campus and supporting her peers. 

“At the show, students will get to experience thought-provoking emotions and stories told through movement,” Egrin said. “To have something like this for free on campus is definitely a reason why people should come.”

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