Spring into Dance inspires new roles
The Jeanine Larson Dobbins Conservatory of Theatre and Dance’s annual Spring into Dance performances saw many student dancers step out of their comfort zones by taking on different forms of dance.
Performances were held April 4 to 7 in the Donald C. Bedell Performance Hall on Southeast’s River Campus.
Spring into Dance featured 10 original dance pieces in a variety of styles, including classical and contemporary ballet, modern jazz and aerial dance. This year’s performances included live musical accompaniment played by the Southeast Wind Symphony, a guest performance by dancers from the Ruth Page School of Dance in Chicago and new choreography by faculty and guest artists.
Assistant professor of dance Rubén Gerding explained how, especially with this performance, he saw many people “stepping into really different roles.”
“Since it’s a ballet, modern and jazz program, they get exposure to all three, and then, I would say at least a couple times they’re stretched out of their comfort zones,” Gerding said. “You’re not allowed to just say ‘Oh, I’m in this ballet box, I’m in this jazz box or modern box,’ they kind of get to stretch themselves in all different areas.”
Freshman dance major Bailey Bremer debuted in her first ever aerial performance. She said it was something she never thought she could do.
Another student to try out a different form of dance was freshman dance major J’Nae Howard, who participated in her first ballet piece.
“The whole process was a little stressful because I don’t consider myself a ballet dancer and that’s not my strongest principle, but I’m glad I did it, because it definitely made me a stronger dancer,” Howard said.
Gerding stressed the importance of the dancers learning different forms of dance so they could apply a variety of techniques to make them better all-around dancers.
“Once they understand you’re not stuck in these boxes, and they’re just tools and ways of moving that you can utilize no matter whatever you’re doing, it opens them up to be like, ‘Oh, ok, I don’t have to think in these little genres,’” Gerding said.
The Southeast Wind Symphony, under the direction of Marty Reynolds, performed Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide Suite” in celebration of the composer’s 100th birthday. It has been eight years since the Wind Symphony has collaborated with this performance, and Gerding said while it is not something that can always be done, it is something he hopes to continue.
“It was just an effortless collaboration,” Gerding said. “It allowed our dancers to work with live music, which is not always possible, but hopefully something they encounter in their professional careers.”
The performance also featured works from two guests artists: Autumn Eckman, who choreographed “You Go, I Go,” and Jennifer Mabus, who choreographed the senior piece “Silent Language.”
“We get grant money that helps us bring in guest artists and money we raise from our BFA Extravaganza and certain things help pay to bring in guest artists because we are in Cape Girardeau, I mean we are arts for Cape Girardeau, and that’s an exciting thing,” Gerding said.
He explained while it is nice the River Campus can bring arts to the community, there are not a lot of other professional productions in Cape and they bring in guest speakers to ensure their dancers are being exposed to what it is like to do professional work — what the quality is and what those demands are.
Bremer said she thought this show had more variety than in the past, and everything they did was new and pushed the boundaries a little bit.
“We get to do a real mix of stuff and I think that’s good for the dancers and the faculty,” Gerding said.