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.
“It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.” -Jean-Luc Godard
Inspired … how I always felt at Western Michigan University. Inspired by my professors, the guest choreographers, the repétitéurs, the alumni and my peers. Inspired by their stories and experiences. Inspired to find my own voice. Inspired to trust that voice. Inspired to train and chisel my body into a vessel for that voice. Inspired to get to the next level. Inspired to give back.
That inspiration reaffirmed me when I felt rejected, steadied me when I stumbled, and picked me up when I fell; all of which you will experience in the professional dance world. With every dismissal, you dig in and dig deeper, until finally, you get your shot. I am proud to say that this small town girl used that inspiration and her WMU education to get to the bright lights of the windy city as a company member of DanceWorks Chicago!
Mastering and performing a ballet is no easy feat. It's a process that involves complex dance sequences and intricate technique. It requires flexibility and balance - both physical and internal - as dancers must take on different roles through the movement of their bodies alone. It demands discipline, stamina, attention to detail and commitment.
In many ways, the complexities and demands of staging a ballet mirror those that exist in the every day life of a dance student. With coursework to complete, choreography to learn and rehearsals to attend, the life of a dance student is a fast-paced and tiring balancing act. But, just as perfecting a ballet brings great satisfaction and applause, the life of a dance student is immensely rewarding.
The Department of Dance is proud to announce this year’s Great Works ballet, Antony Tudor’s Lilac Garden. We are honored to have Amanda McKerrow and John Gardner, sanctioned repetiteurs from the Tudor Trust and former dancers with American Ballet Theatre, staging the ballet on our students during a 2-week residency. Originally created in London on Ballet Rambert in 1936, Lilac Garden was the first of Tudor's famous "pyschological ballets" and also launched his 40-year career as the Resident Choreographer with American Ballet Theatre.
Last week, WMU dance students broadened their choreographic horizons, pushed the boundaries of their bodies' kinespheres, and learned to appreciate the universality of strong technique through their exposure to visiting artists from the Dominican Republic. But the students weren't the only ones impacted by this international residency.
In their native Spanish, Rafael, Dayme and Evelyn of la Compañía Nacional de Danza Contemporánea described the mark this experience left on them as educators and artists. Read their own impressions, stories and messages of thanks below:
Living the Dream
A reflection from sophomore dance student Alyssa Boone
Our teachers for the day—Dayme, Erick, and Rafael—were so passionate and energetic. They loved to push the limits of their movement and encouraged us to do the same. When you’re dancing in the same setting with the same people every day, it’s easy to get comfortable. But dancing with them helped remind us all that there’s always something more to reach for.
The Universal language of dance
A reflection from senior dance student Sinclair Davis
"The Department of Dance is very excited to host its first international residency with the Compañía Nacional de Danza Contemporánea. This professional contemporary dance company is from the Dominican Republic and is directed by internationally renowned choreographer, Marianela Boan.
For just the fourth time in Department of Dance history, a Western Michigan University piece was selected to be showcased at the American College Dance Association National Festival, which took place last month.
Held at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, DC, the ACDA National Festival featured some of the best collegiate dance productions in the country. "The illusion has been just a dream," a work choreographed by WMU Associate Professor of Dance Carolyn Pavlik, was among them.
Cayla Merritt, one of the 14 dancers to take stage in that performance, told us a little more about her weekend in Washington. Check out the video she made and her day-by-day reflections on the trip in the post below: