Student-run dance organization Momentum encourages self-expression

GVL / Courtesy - Alyssa Wrubel

GVL / Courtesy – Alyssa Wrubel

Kate Branum

At Grand Valley State University, self-expression is valued and encouraged. Campus is full of unique opportunities and organizations that provide students with a chance to unwind and indulge in their favorite hobbies. Among these outlets is a student-run dance program called Momentum.

Momentum was founded a few years ago by several students in the dance department who sought extended practice time outside of their classes. Eventually, the original members decided to develop their practice circle into an official organization, inviting both other dance students and non dance majors to join.

Mackenzie Matyn, Momentum president and and Jayma Carney, vice president both joined the organization over two years ago as a way to fine-tune their dance skills and help others do the same.

“What’s special about Momentum is, us dance department majors and minors are together all the time and we’re used to working with one another,” Matyn said, “but we get to recruit so many dancers on campus who aren’t a part of the dance department who have danced in high school or in their childhood and just want to continue dancing.”

The organization is comprised of several student choreographers, dancers and technical crew members. At the beginning of each semester, auditions are held to determine which dance pieces will debut in a concert that takes places at the end of the semester. What’s unique about these auditions is that every group or individual who submits a piece gets a slot.

Once auditions are over, each group works with a Momentum student choreographer that works with the dancers on their piece. The organization doesn’t assign specific practice times, which allows all students involved to find a time that works best with their schedules. Usually, the groups are asked to meet each week for about an hour to make sure they are ready for the concert.

“This is my first semester choreographing, I’ve always just been dancing, but I feel like Momentum allows you to have a whole bunch of roles,” Carney said. “It’s not stressful, because you get to choose how much you want to be involved. I like how you can choose what’s best for you.”

If the groups need additional outside assistance, Momentum board members, including Matyn and Carney, are more than willing to attend practices and offer their insight.

“It’s important to get an outside view to make sure your vision is coming across,” Matyn said.

This semester, the concert was held last Friday, March 17. The evening was packed with a diverse range of performances and included 10 full length pieces and six shorter interlude solos and duets. While Momentum is open to all dance genres, board members have found that the most popular category is contemporary/modern; however, the organization has seen everything from swing dancing performances to hip-hop pieces.

“This semester has been more diverse for us. We have a pointe piece and a hip-hop piece,” Carney said.

The driving force behind Momentum is more than just a love for dance, it’s also a passion for helping those in need. Momentum members choose a different charitable cause to donate to each semester. This year, all proceeds collected from the concert went to Arts in Motion Studio, a nonprofit organization in downtown Grand Rapids that enriches the lives of individuals with disabilities through expressive arts.

Those who are interested in joining Momentum will have a chance to attend a pre-audition meeting after Campus Life Night next semester.

Both Matyn and Carney are excited to see Momentum continue to evolve and expand, and want to emphasize that Momentum is a judgement-free safe space reserved for experimentation, bonding with other dance enthusiasts and having fun.