Expanding the dance major at Fall Dance Day



Allison Rafferty

Friday, Nov. 1 marked Grand Valley State University’s annual Fall Dance Day. The event, which helps recruit future college freshman into GVSU’s dance program, went from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and offered participants a variety of dance classes. Dance Day is free to anyone who would like to attend, and GVSU typically sees about 20-30 participants.

The Fall Dance Day schedule included Stephen Sanford teaching ballet technique, Hannah Seidel teaching modern technique, and the Dance Program Coordinator Carrie Brueck Morris leading students in viewing a showing of works in rehearsal for the dance program’s upcoming Fall Dance Concert. The day ended with a Q&A session with faculty and current students. 

The first Dance Day occurred in spring 2014 and now takes place twice every year. Assistant Professor of Dance, Hannah Seidel said that Dance Day originated as “an opportunity for high school dancers to start thinking about what it means to pursue dance in college as a major, minor, or double major.”

GVSU continues to put on Dance Day because it helps give potential GVSU dance students a glimpse into what the program is like. Through Dance Day, high school students have the opportunity to take classes with and talk with current GVSU dance students, as well as speak with faculty members. 

“It is important for high school students who may be considering auditioning for the GVSU Dance Program to hear from people who have gone through the same process and transition they are thinking about,” said Seidel. 

Emily McKenzie, a junior in the GVSU dance program, attended Fall Dance Day in 2016 and said that her favorite part was watching the students enrolled in the GVSU dance program perform. 

“[The performances] were all so stimulating and impactful in a way that dance had never been to me. It really made me want to be a part of it,” she explained.

McKenzie also believes that ending the day with a Q&A session is “vital” as it allows high school students to talk to someone in the position they are thinking of pursuing, and gives them a glimpse into what life as a GVSU dance student is like. 

Attending Fall Dance Day made McKenzie feel very comfortable.“The dance students were extremely welcoming and helpful, and they made me feel like I was already a part of the program,” she said.

Seidel explained that faculty hope participants get inspired by the students, faculty, and experience they share during Dance Day and that they get a feel for the program as a “rigorous, welcoming, and exciting place to be.”

That’s just the feel Mckenzie got for the program through her Dance Day experience.  “I immediately got the feeling of acceptance and open-mindedness,” she explained. “I felt like if I studied dance at GVSU, I would be able to grow immensely due to the welcoming and supportive environment, and the challenging material from the professors.”

McKenzie explained that being a part of the program for the day and watching the current students perform “opened my eyes to the ideas and images that dance can create in ways I had never even considered possibilities.”

The next Dance Day will be held in the spring of 2020.