The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

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

GV dancers use spring break for improvement at ACDA Conference

Courtesy/ ACDA

27 students in Grand Valley State University’s Dance Program kicked off their spring break by attending and performing at the annual American College Dance Association’s (ACDA) East-Central Conference. The conference, which was held from Feb. 28 to March 2 at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, featured classes and performance opportunities for college dance students.

GVSU brings dancers to the conference every year to take a variety of classes from a diverse array of teachers and present GVSU pieces in showcases. The conference provided students with a variety of classes that specialized in expanding their movements, styles and performances. With the goal of supporting and establishing dance at the collegiate level, ACDA instructors presented dancers with the opportunity to receive professional feedback on their choreography and technique. 

There were three performance opportunities for participating universities at the ACDA conference: two choreographed pieces for an adjudicated concert and one for an informal concert. GVSU dance faculty selected three pieces to bring to the conference. Two pieces were set by senior dance majors and one faculty piece that was set in the fall 2023 semester.

Julian McKenzie, a senior dance major at GVSU, had his senior capstone project chosen by GVSU dance professors to be presented at the ACDA conference for formal review. His group piece, choreographed by McKenzie, titled “CLUTTEREDind” conveyed the “physiological and psychological implications of overthinking.” McKenzie said watching the variety of performances at the conference, including his own choreography, gave him a new perspective as a dancer and choreographer.

“I think it’s important to realize that dance is art and not everyone is always going to understand art,” McKenzie said. “My goal was to make something that was different and thought-provoking, which I think we accomplished.” 

The conference not only provided dancers an opportunity to network with their peers and create opportunities after college, but it also gave them a space to have fun together. McKenzie said the social aspect of the conference was the highlight of the weekend for him. 

“Being able to travel to a different area and share the piece with an entire new audience was very exciting,” McKenzie said. “I think it was a great bonding experience for all of us, and (it was) something that we can take away and think about for the rest of our lives.”

Emma Buschle, a dance and advertising and public relations major at GVSU, was selected to bring her self-choreographed, senior capstone dance solo. The piece, titled “The Ordinary Instant,” was performed in ACDA’s informal concert. Like McKenzie, Buschle said the bonding experience was one of the most important and memorable takeaways from the conference. Buschle also described the weekend as both exhausting and inspiring.

Hannah Seidel, associate professor of dance at GVSU, had a piece, “As If Compelled,” performed by GVSU dance majors in the event’s adjudicated concert. The piece was originally performed in the 2023 Fall Dance Concert. Seidel praised the dancers for their hard work and enthusiasm over the weekend, and described their performances as “some of the strongest” she has ever seen for the selected pieces.

Seidel said the dancers gained valuable dance experience and connected with dancers from different colleges through ACDA. 

“Dancers are exposed to many different artistic visions,” Seidel said. “They also have chances to interact with peers from the Midwest with whom they will be entering the professional world (with) after graduation.” 

For dancers like McKenzie and Buschle who are graduating this year, the conference provided them with opportunities and encouragement for dance after GVSU.

“I have new ideas from the classes I took, and I want to try new styles of dance once I’m outside of West Michigan,” Buschle said. “I’m excited after graduation to jump into new classes and lean on the connections I’ve made.”

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