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Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

Senior dance concert stirs reflection of students’ journeys

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GVL/ Elizabeth Schanz

Eight Grand Valley State University senior dance students will present their original pieces in the senior dance concert on Dec. 8 and 9. The concert, titled “Boundless,” will take place at the Haas Center for Performing Arts in the Dance Studio Theatre.

The concert, which is part of the Senior Project capstone course for dance majors at GVSU, is entirely student-produced. This semester, each student chose to choreograph a solo and ensemble piece that requires them to utilize their knowledge and experiences from GVSU. Students are given free range and complete control over their capstone project, provided that it relates to what they have learned. 

As part of the process, the dancers have to learn how to correctly light the concert, come up with logistics for the show, get in touch with videographers and photographers and set contracts. They are also encouraged to incorporate other elements they feel will help them transition into the professional world post-graduation. 

“We take off a lot of the guardrails on this (the capstone project) and turn them (senior dance students) loose,” said Carrie Brueck Morris, Dance Curriculum Coordinator and Professor of Dance at GVSU. “It’s a lot of work, but for most, I think it’s very rewarding in the end for them to see what they’ve accomplished.”

Preparation for the concert began at the beginning of the semester. Students were required to submit a project proposal and host auditions, followed by weekly rehearsals. The weekly rehearsals, which only last for two hours, are linked to the success of the ensemble piece. 

Emma Buschle, a senior Dance and Advertising and Public Relations major, is setting a her ensemble piece, titled “And Still They Move,” on six dancers. In the press release for the concert, Buschle wrote that the performance “captures how resilience and community (are able to) forge stability.”

The idea of resiliency, Buschle said, was partially inspired by her dance journey at GVSU, which started during the COVID-19 pandemic. Buschle said she felt isolated from her peers and disconnected from the dance program during lockdown. 

“It’s (the senior dance concert) representative of where I started as a freshman and will end as a senior,” Buschle said. “I’ve grown to appreciate the community aspect of dance because it’s hard to enjoy when you’re isolated.”

Another senior dancer in the concert, Kaylynn Betts, said that initial experience at GVSU started out much different than she expected. Betts recalled the awkwardness of rolling up her dorm room carpet to dance for her virtual freshman-year ballet class and standing in taped boxes on the floor during rare studio sessions.

“I didn’t realize how much better (dance classes were) until sophomore year when things started to slowly go back to normal,” Betts said. “(Although), we still had to wear masks. Nothing was truly ‘normal’ until my junior year.”

On the cusp of presenting her own choreographed and produced performances, Betts said she is proud of how far all of her peers have come. 

“Seeing everyone’s personal artistry come through in their work is so inspiring, and (it’s) amazing to see how far we’ve come since starting as freshmen in (taped boxes due to COVID-19 precautions),” Betts said. 

The first performance of the show will take place on Dec. 8 at 7 p.m., while the Dec. 9 concerts will be performed at both 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. The GVSU dance seniors encores the public and GVSU community to attend the free concert and support the student-produced dance performances. 

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About the Contributor
Dylan Hoffius, Arts and Entertainment Editor
Dylan Hoffius is the Lanthorn's Arts & Entertainment Editor for the Winter 2024 semester. He previously worked as an Arts & Entertainment staff writer during the Fall 2023 semester. Dylan is a senior at Grand Valley State University, majoring in journalism, broadcast, and digital media, with aspirations to critique film and write for a sports and pop-culture outlet after graduation. He loves to watch movies at the theater, play disc golf and cheer for Michigan-based sports teams, specifically the Lions and Pistons. Follow his Letterboxd account for unbiased movie reviews and rankings. Graduating Winter 2024 Major: Journalism, Broadcast, and Digital Media