Grand Valley State University dancers performed at the Detroit Dance City Festival in their annual College Showcase, along with Lindenwood University, Western Michigan University and Madonna University. The showcase started in 2021 with the hopes of attracting more college-level dancers and professors to participate in the dance festival.
Megan Vernier, a senior in the GVSU Dance Program and a member of the College Committee for the DDCF, said the festival wanted to reach out to the dance community and highlight dancers of all ages in their performance.
“This year they curated a College Committee made up of faculty and students from various schools,” Vernier said. “We have been meeting monthly to help DDCF in developing plans for the event. They also asked said schools to perform in their college showcase and that is how we got the opportunity.”
Showcases like this also give the GVSU Dance Program a chance to connect with other members of the dance community.
“It connects our program to a really wide sector of the global dance community because this festival hosts dancers from all around the world,” Vernier said. “It gives us a great opportunity to showcase our program to others and to network with dancers internationally.”
The piece that the dancers performed was created by guest artist Paul Singh, who developed the piece in January during his week-long residency with the program. The piece is entitled “Just” and the choreography is supposed to demonstrate four beings existing together in a space doing everyday movements with the audience looking in on the dancers’ interactions.
“Uniquely, this piece is more focused on the movement itself rather than telling a specific story,” Vernier said.
The dancers originally learned the piece for the GVSU Dance Program’s Spring Concert in April and were restaged for this performance. One of the original performers graduated, so adjustments had to be made within a two-week rehearsal process before the festival.
Carrie Brueck Morris, Dance Curriculum Coordinator and Professor of Dance at GVSU, said that the festival taking place soon after the end of summer break created a challenge, since the dancers had not done the dance together in a couple of months. However, Morris said that the dancers came together to help make the piece ready to perform.
“The dancers have put in a lot of focused work to make that [the changes] happen,” Morris said.
Morris said performance opportunities like these may be a challenge but are a good lesson for students as they reflect on what some professional performance experiences are like.
“It’s a great learning experience for students to have to walk into a theater they’ve never been in, have to adjust during a 25-minute tech rehearsal and then perform,” Morris said. “In showcases like this, we don’t get a week on the stage to prepare like we do here.”
This experience is an integral part of the education for dance students as they have the opportunity to learn different styles of dance and perform in new environments.