Grand Valley Dance Troupe perform fall show

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GVL / Bethann Long

Lea Gaetto, Staff Writer

The Grand Valley State University Dance Troupe (GVDT) is a non-competitive student-run organization that allows dancers of all levels to express themselves and their passion for dance.

On Nov. 18 and 19, GVDT performed two shows at Allendale High School for their fall 2022 performance, “Don’t Stop Be’Leafing.” 

Every semester, the group puts on a recital to raise money for a local nonprofit. This semester, all ticket sales made by the organization benefitted the Blandford Nature Center, the local nonprofit whose mission is to empower and engage the Grand Rapids community through nature.

This non-profit has been in operation since 1968, and its mission is to cultivate the community through enriching experiences in nature. Through many of the routines and the show’s name itself, GVDT promoted awareness about the center and its environmental efforts.

“Blandford Nature Center is now 264 total acres— making them one of the largest nature centers in the country to exist entirely within city limits,” said Graylen Erdmann, the financial officer and a seventh-semester member. “They engage 10,000 youth program participants in 450 programs annually and three elementary schools surrounding our property that can engage their students in experiential education in nature all school year.”

The group encouraged students, families and community members to attend the event to support and recognize both organizations’ hard work and commitment to giving back to society. 

Grace Mahon, current president and club member for the past seven semesters, said the team has been preparing for the show all semester to make it their best yet. 

“Each dance practices once a week during the semester learning the choreography, and the week before the show, we meet at Allendale High School every night for what we call Spirit Week to rehearse on stage,” Mahon said. “As President, there are also plenty of behind-the-scenes details to prepare for our recital, from promotions, videography, photography, venue and more.”

GVL / Bethann Long

Jillian Ferry, a current membership officer and nine-semester GVDT member, echoed Ferry’s explanation and added how rewarding it is to see the final production.

“Our dancers are so dedicated and talented,” Ferry said. “It is amazing seeing how all the preparation comes together for the show, and it makes all of the practicing worth it.”

As part of their fall 2022 performance, the group choreographed and rehearsed 24 dances, and choreographers had to meet specific criteria in order to demonstrate their creativity. 

“Once you have completed one semester in GVDT, you can become a choreographer for any level and style of dance,” Ferry said. “To be in this role, leaders expect the choreographer to be responsible for “creating up to two of the dances and picking out costumes to go along with their piece(s).”

The members take pride in their performances and the artistry of their fellow teammates, using dance as an outlet to express their identity and passion for giving back to the community.