GV dance professor performs at ArtPrize


GVL / Macayla Cramer

Allison Bair, Staff Writer

GVL / Macayla Cramer

Carolyn Pampalone Rabbers, an adjunct professor of ballet at Grand Valley State University, will be performing at ArtPrize 2022. The performance consists of an improvisational warm-up along with a choreographed piece with herself and her company’s dancers. 

Rabbers is the Executive Arts Director of her own dance company “CPR Dance: Inhale Movement” based in Southwest Michigan. The company is entering its first performance season. The work of Inhale Movement aims to reach out to the community with dance and encourage movement through opportunities to connect, interact and participate with the general public.

This is Rabbers’ first time performing in ArtPrize. After submitting her portfolio and beginning her ArtPrize piece, she was able to connect with “The Satellite Collective,” a venue company based in New York with a branch in West Michigan.

Rabbers worked with the company to figure out logistics to allow CPR Dance: Inhale Movement and its members to perform not only at ArtPrize, but multiple other venues.

CPR Dance’s performance for ArtPrize is titled, “Motherland.” The performance tells the story of an immigrant having to say goodbye to their homeland rooting themselves in a new place. 

“This is a piece that has kind of been this work in progress for a long time and I finally have felt the courage to perform and present,” Rabbers said.

She said she found inspiration for this piece from her grandmother, who was a refugee from Slovakia at the end of World War II. She later brought her daughters and husband to the United States after securing citizenship.

“Part of my research has been investigating the process that my maternal grandmother took to come to the United States post-World War II and the end of World War II as she was claiming asylum,” Rabbers said.

Additionally, Rabbers choreographs her pieces to focus on movement through breath and how emotions are expressed through that movement. This idea not only influences the movement but the overall idea of what Rabbers’ work and her company seek to express. 

“Inhale Movement proposes the idea that dance is just as fundamental as breath,” Rabbers said.

Rabbers is not only a professor at GVSU but also at Western Michigan University and a teacher at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. Rabbers said she shares her love of dance, breathwork and the “holistic mindset” through teaching.

Although she sticks to teaching classical ballet technique, she said she has modernized her lessons and choreography to make them unique for each individual. 

“I teach ballet from a lens that is of the twenty-first century and from the lens that it’s a movement-based approach,” Rabbers said. “So it’s not necessarily about forcing turnout, but how we can use the energy within our body and within our breath to maximize the turnout potential that we have within ourselves.”

Rabbers will perform a total of four times during ArtPrize with performances that happened on Sept. 17 and 24. 

The performances are at Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids and her final performance will take place Saturday, Oct. 1 at 8:30 p.m.