By DAVID DUPONT
BG Independent News
At last night’s dress rehearsal for Footfalls, the annual dance concert, spirits were high. Dancers took turns being on stage and in the audience, and the performers couldn’t have asked for more enthusiastic fans.
By the time the dancers from the Jazz 2 class closed out the program, the other dancers were whooping and cheering them on.
Set to a 98 Degrees holiday tune, the dancers cavorted in front of a Christmas tree. Everybody was in the spirit.
Everyone has the chance to share the fun when Footfalls, takes the stage at 222 Eppler North tonight (Thursday, Dec. 7) and Friday at 8 p.m. on the BGSU campus. Tickets are $5 at the door.
The program features performances by students in the programs five classes in jazz, modern, tap and ballet as well as work created by students in the choreography.
Those students, explained Colleen Murphy, a lecturer in the program, are responsible for the entire process. Choreographing the dance, designing the lighting, selecting dancers, choosing the music, and arranging rehearsals.
Almost all used modern dance techniques.
The outlier was Sarah Drummer who took a more ballroom approach. Drummer, a double major in theater and dance, was inspired by a workshop she participated in New York City.
She’s been involved in Latin dance since she was little, so the senior decided to include several salsa styles as well as some Middle Eastern ingredients into the mix.
The music accompanying the dancers draws heavily on current popular music styles with Lady Gaga, James Blake, and Sara Bareilles among artists whose music pumps out of the speakers. Act 1 closes with the jazz 1 class performing to Bette Midler’s rendition of “Cool Yule.”
Not everything was so upbeat. A couple dances were somber reflections on life, love, and belonging.
Salon Gegel presented a haunting “Dollhouse Nightmare.”
This edition of Footfalls captures the work of the dance program at a pivotal moment.
The program is in the process of being moved from the College of Education and Human Development into the Department of Theatre and Film in the College of Arts and Sciences, Murphy said.
In the process, the dance major will be eliminated, though the dance minor will remain. The program has been small with about 20-25 majors. “We’re losing a major, but we’re gaining a minor in a unit more related to what we do,” she said.
Now, Murphy said, dance will be able to more effectively draw on students whose interests are more aligned with dance.
Drummer sees the advantage. “Having that bridge will get more actors and singers who are interested in improving their dancing.”
She knows the benefits of that. She’s said she’s been dancing longer than she’s been singing and acting. The physicality of dance helps with both. Having the physical awareness allows her to understand how a character moves. That makes for a more rounded characterization.
Drummer plans to move to New York by September to pursue a show business career, and dance will be valuable as she seeks out jobs.
Courtney Douglas is an example of the type of student drawn to the program.
She came to BGSU to study psychology – she plans to go on to get a doctorate in clinical psychology. She’s danced since she was 4. Her first semester on campus was the first time since then that she was not active in dancing.
Douglas knew that had to change. So her mother suggested she do a dance minor. She’ll graduate next week with a psychology major and a dance minor.
The minor gave her break from her academic work. It was good, she said, to be active with other students who shared her love of dance.
Douglas said she hopes the BGSU dance training will give her the ability to teach dance while she’s working toward her doctorate.
Murphy said while many of the students on stage have been dancing since they were toddlers, a few students in the beginning tap and jazz classes are doing dance for the first time.
Murphy and the other instructors, Kristi Faulkner and Tracy Wilson, choreographed the class pieces.
Some of the student choreographers, Murphy said, “are pushing the boundaries.” All, she said, “are really working hard to develop their craft. They’ve all grown a lot.”