Seniors produce final concert, say goodbye to fellow students

Courtesy Photo / Darren Breen Photography LLC

Courtesy Photo / Darren Breen Photography LLC

Mary Mattingly

Each semester, the Grand Valley State University dance department seniors put on a concert showcasing the four years of intense training they’ve gone through to get their degree.

The concert fulfills their capstone class requirements for graduation, and is completely produced by the students.

“The class is all of what we do, it encompasses many facets of the performance life,” said Shawn Bible, dance program coordinator. “The show is a chance for the dancers to have the ability to present themselves as a person.”

The capstone class encompasses many aspects of the professional world that dancers must be prepared for in order to market themselves while auditioning. In the class, they learn how to create a website, build an online resume, and create both headshots and bodyshots for their professional portfolios. They then use the bodyshots to create posters to advertise their concert.

“With this concert, they present themselves to the university in the same way they would present themselves to a company,” Bible said.

Along with choreographing the concert, the dancers must also edit their own music, and coordinate a stage manager, ushers and a reception to follow the concert. They organize the costumes, lighting and tech crews.

“They fully produce their own concert,” Bible said.

Jesse Powers and Karley Dorner produced this semester’s concert, which features undergraduate dancers, as well as a few alumni. Both Powers and Dorner said they found challenges in maintaining a rehearsal schedule and coordinating the show, while keeping up with other classes.

“It’s learning how to balance normal life and trying to produce a show,” Powers said.

The class did not have a scheduled meeting time, and it was up to Powers and Dorner to schedule meetings with Bible and schedule rehearsals.

For the show, Dorner and Powers choreographed a group dance, as well as their own solos.

“Personally, it was definitely challenging, the whole choreographic process,” Dorner said. “You have to work on both a group number and a solo. You only have eight weeks to get it where it needs to be.”
The dancers have had experience choreographing before, and mixed their personal styles to create the concert.

“It’s what we find aesthetically pleasing,” Powers said. “It’s dancing and acting at the same time.”

While the group numbers represent more of a concept, the solo pieces are meant to represent the choreographer as a person.

“It’s really refreshing,” Dorner said. “Having that opportunity in choosing to get where you want, to be listening to yourself and making suggestions. Being open so that (the choreography) can keep developing.”

The concert will be a culmination of the dancers’ talents and what they learned at GVSU.

“The audience will see great technique,” Dorner said. “We’re blessed with amazing students here. It’s going to be great performance and entertainment quality.”

And while the show is part of their class, it is also a way of saying goodbye to their college dancing career.

“It’s going to be different pieces, different dynamic ranges,” Powers said. “We’re doing a duet to close the show, it’s our last hurrah.”

Like any graduation, and the events accompanying the end of the year, the show is bittersweet for the two seniors.

“I am excited to get my piece out there,” Powers said. “I’m excited and kind of sad. It’s crazy that I won’t be here next year. This is my last time dancing with these people.”

They’ve gotten to know each other very well dancing together during the past four years.

“We’re a family, it’s going to be bittersweet,” Dorner said. “It’s awesome to present ourselves, but I will be sad to leave the program. (The other dancers and I) grew up together in this program.”

Now, the seniors must use the training they learned at GVSU toward their future careers.

“I’m excited to hear what they do in the future,” Bible said. “You train your students to be so fantastic. You want them to be around another year to put them through more work and be an example so that other students learn from them. But for me, the best part is hearing about their success after the university.”

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