While students were at home enjoying the holidays, VCU dance and choreography majors were working nonstop to put on the 9th annual student dance concert later this month.
The Grace Street Theater on Jan. 24 and 25 will host “PATHFINDERS.” The concert features the choreographed pieces of nine VCU dance majors who were chosen by a committee of students and faculty.
“Every year it is a joy to see my work come to life on stage, and to watch as my voice transforms and morphs. Hopefully this year I can touch a few hearts, and rattle a few interests,” said senior dance and choreography major Johnnie Mercer, who has been chosen for the concert three years in a row.
“Each choreographer goes through an adjudication process in which their work must be chosen by the faculty and two student representatives to be presented upon The Grace Street Theater stage,” said Emily Todd, a senior dance and choreography major whose work will be included in the concert.
Any dance major can submit work, Todd said, but there is an understanding that it must maintain a certain level of professionalism in order to meet the expectations of the student concert panel.
“This concert gives dance majors of all grades the opportunity to share their artistic voice through dance,” said Christie Klach, a senior who is choreographing a duet with fellow senior Johnnie Mercer. “During the fall semester, students work very hard to choreograph different works and adjudicate it for the student concert.”
There were 17 student entries for the concert; of the nine chosen, the choreographers range from freshmen to seniors in the dance department. The show will feature the choreography of freshman Callie Moore, sophomore Morgahn Crawford, juniors Jacob Spallino and Ivy Bryngelson, and seniors Christie Klach, Charlie Maybee, Johnnie Mercer, Emily Todd and Sanchel Brown.
“In the coming weeks all of the student choreographers who are involved in the student concert have the opportunity to work with a lighting designer as well as the amazing Grace Street Theater staff to bring their works to life,” Mercer said. “Seeing your work on stage, lit and performed, brings a sense of joy. There’s nothing like your voice being heard.”
Mercer choreographed two pieces for the concert, and will be performing in one of them. He said the hardest part of the concert is the organization of the costumes and technical aspects of each dance. Mercer said the process of producing a crafting a piece takes hundreds of hours.
“This year the concert features work from all four classes in the dance department,” Todd said. “Each emerging choreographer has drawn inspiration from their own artistic endeavors and personal experiences. This makes for a unique concert every year, for different choreographers are chosen each year.”
After completing the adjudication process, the choreographers must work with the stage and music directors and finalize costumes. The students must also work together to find a common theme for the concert.
“Finding a common theme is always hard because the choreographer need to create something that encompasses their work as a whole when it was created in pieces and then give it a singular look,” said Katrina Clemans, a VCU Dance spokesperson.
Tickets for the concert are available online at showclix.com or by calling 804-828-2020. Tickets cost $15 for the public or $10 for students with a valid VCU ID.