Spring Dance Concert to show growing program strength

Dance Practice- Brandon Harneck and Briana Buck dance freestyle. The Spring Dance Concert will be held in the Louis Armstrong Theater this Friday and Saturday.

Kate Kaurich

Dance Practice- Brandon Harneck and Briana Buck dance freestyle. The Spring Dance Concert will be held in the Louis Armstrong Theater this Friday and Saturday.

Elijah Brumback

For senior Kelly Kerastas, this year’s Spring Dance Concert by the Grand Valley State University dance program will be the culmination of four years of intensive training and learning.

Kerastas, along with many others in the dance department, is looking forward to Friday’s performance as she approaches graduation this April.

“This is the last concert that I will be performing in as a member of the GVSU Dance Ensemble,” Kerastas said. “So this concert is reigns of great importance to me.”

Preparations for the concert have been ongoing since the beginning of this semester.

“We bring in 3 national guest artists at the beginning of the semester and hold auditions during the first 3 weeks of classes,” said Shawn Bible, GVSU dance professor and concert organizer. “We begin rehearsals the first week of classes each semester and continue to rehearse for approximately three and a half months. “

Bible said the concert offers the GVSU community and Dance Program dancers a chance to dance for nationally and internationally acclaimed dance professionals.

“Our guest artists for this concert are highly acclaimed dance professionals throughout the world,” Bible said.

While these guests as well as costumes and lighting are of considerable cost to the program, Bible said there is much more to gain with this “masterfully crafted” production for the dance program and the public.

“The dance concert this spring highlights our growing dance program. As the years progress, the GVSU Dance Program features larger numbers of student performers with amazing technical ability,” he said. “GVSU’s reputation in comparison to other dance university programs nationwide is tremendous.”

Bible said GVSU is now considered one of the strongest university programs in Michigan and is beginning to gain a national reputation because of its ability to work with world-renowned guest artists.

This year’s guests include Karen Milligan of the Milligan School of Balletin in Dearborn, Mich., Melissa Thodos of Thodos Dance Chicago and Mark Santilliano, SoMar Dance Works director and former Pilobolus dancer.

“We had some very talented choreographers come and set pieces on us this semester,” Kerastas said. “This concert is very diverse as far as forms of dance as well as talent.”

Featured dances will include styles in ballet, modern, contemporary jazz and pointe variations.

“Each piece usually tells a story or has a message of some kind,” Kerastas said. “However, the choreographers do not always want the message to be known and would prefer the audience has their own interpretation.”

To prepare for the concert, Kerastas said the first thing learned is the choreography, followed by a stretch of intensive practice.

“It’s always difficult to learn new dances and have them look and feel 100 percent, but if you have the passion to dance, you make it work no matter how difficult the entire process may be,” she said.

Bible said exposure to GVSU is the most amazing aspect of the dance concerts for the department.

“As all art forms, dance continues to strive to bring the most talented students and choreographers to Grand Valley,” he said. “We want to share our personal experiences working with such amazing talent with the public.”

His hope for this concert and the hard work of the program is to continue to pull in new audiences.

The performance is Friday from 8 to 10 p.m. in the Louis Armstrong Theatre in the Performing Arts Center. Admission is free.

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