Time flies when you’re having fun, and it’s no question that the Western Michigan University Department of Dance had a bit of fun throughout this 2016–17 school year.
Beginning in September, we had the privilege of holding our first international dance residency from the Dominican Republic. Members of la Compañía Nacional de Danza Contemporánea visited our department, taught master classes throughout the week, and performed for our student body. Moving into October, we hosted our annual scholarship fundraiser “Dancing with the WMU/Kazoo Stars”. We ended the month with a successful Orchesis Concert, showcasing thirteen student choreographed pieces, over six separate performances including modern, contemporary, hip-hop, jazz, and tap styles. To round out our fall semester, WMU Dance performed at downtown Kalamazoo’s “ArtHop” and presented the Fall Showcase which featured the works of students in the Choreography III class, as well as choreography by Jackie Nowicki, our 2016 Distinguished Alumna, and was performed entirely by first-year students.
|2016 Dancing with the WMU/Kazoo Stars winners, Tim Hiller and Cayla Merritt.|
As if the fall semester wasn’t busy enough, it also included numerous auditions, residencies, and rehearsals in preparation for the most extravagant event of the year – our 20th Anniversary of the Great Works Gala. This year our concert consisted entirely of Great Works – master pieces created by renowned choreographers, which were then set and restaged on our students. Each residency provided all dance students with opportunities to take master classes from the respective choreographers or repétitéurs. After intensive preparation the Western Michigan University Department of Dance premiered this memorable concert. The show included Lilac Garden by Antony Tudor (pictured at top), The Gettin’ by Kyle Abraham, Diphthong by Brian Enos, Charanga by Frank Chaves, Fire Dance by Loïe Fuller, and the special return of eight WMU alumni to perform Foreground by Lauren Edson. The concert also featured A Chorus Line’s “One”, a tribute to former faculty member Lindsey Thomas. It was a concert not to miss, and truly an honor to be a part of.
|Diphthong by Brian Enos|
The spring semester brought master classes from members of Complexions Contemporary Ballet, as well as DanceWorks Chicago. Students recently had the pleasure of attending the American College Dance Association (ACDA) East-Central Conference, performing for and taking class with students from dance departments in the region. During both fall and spring semester, Western Dance Project, WMU Dance’s touring ensemble, traveled throughout Michigan and Illinois participating in outreach and performing repertoire. The year wrapped up with the graduating BFA students presenting their choreography in the Graduating Presentation concert, as well as the graduating BA students showcasing their work in the Capstone performance.
It was a whirlwind of a year, no doubt, but what a privilege it is to be a part of a department that cultivates passion and provides opportunities for professional level growth and excellence. I leave my sophomore year incredibly grateful and inspired to continue my journey within the department of dance.