Fall Dance Performance brings Broadway to WRA

Fall Dance Performance brings Broadway to WRA

All are invited to attend this year's Fall Dance Performance, Broadway on Brick Row!

Friday, Nov. 15, at 8 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 16, at 8 p.m.

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What do Cabaret, Jersey Boys, Chicago and Godspell all have in common?

They will all be featured in this year's Fall Dance Performance! Broadway is this year's theme, and more than 20 different shows will be represented in this dance production. On the list are songs from the newer and famously hyped-up shows, such as Dear Evan Hansen and Hamilton. There's also notable selections from Broadway classics such as Les Miserables, West Side Story and Pippin.

Broadway on Brick Row will debut on Friday, Nov. 15, and the performers are hard at work preparing for this major production. The performance will be divided into two sets, with a brief intermission in between.

"We'll have jazz, ballet, modern and hip hop pieces," explained Fine & Performing Arts Department faculty member Katie Velbeck. "Hip hop was a little tricky, because to us - there was really only one show that was truly fitting from our list, which was Hamilton."

Other selected songs partnered well with different dance styles; for example, "One Day More" from Les Miserables will be performed as a ballet.

Though it's not at all unusual for dance performances to incorporate music students know well, the performers are particularly excited about this year's production.

"They've really attached themselves to it," said Associate Dean of Student Life and Fine & Performing Arts Department faculty member Emily Barth. "It's been a while since we've done a Broadway-themed show, but they seem to really enjoy it."

Each number in a WRA dance performance is meant to tell a story, but what makes Broadway on Brick Row particularly special are the more clear and concrete narratives in each piece. Every new piece introduces a new cast of characters, a different storyline, and a setting may move back in time or jump across the world. But even the casual Broadway fan may know the famous characters that take the stage -- Alexander Hamilton, Miss Trunchbull, Velma Kelly, Elphaba and more.

"We always try to attach our choreography to a story," explained Barth. "But this show definitely adds a different element. We're going to have more props and sets than we normally have done in the past, just because some of the numbers call for it."

For Velbeck, it's been especially rewarding to see students push themselves outside their comfort zone, delve into a musical they don't know as well and try to capture what's happening in this excerpt of a larger production.

"One thing I did was I actually showed them a clip from a Broadway show," said Velbeck. "They were having an easier time visualizing and understanding the more popular shows, but 'Aquarius' from Hair? Totally before their time! They thought it was pretty wild. And once they saw how Broadway did it, they could understand our adaptation of it and they were able to connect with it."

This performance will close with an all-cast number, which is usually reserved for the Spring Dance Performance finales. This has given students a lot more to learn and memorize than they usually would for this season, but both Barth and Velbeck are proud of the students for giving it their all.

"Every class has one more dance this year because we typically don't do a finale," said Barth. "So for example, our regular classes, instead of four numbers, have five to learn. The honors classes have six. It's a little more on their plate, but they're managing it well! They seem really excited about it."

Both fans of theater and fans of dance alike will have a lot to enjoy at this performance. There are more than 70 student-dancers set to take the stage, some new to dancing, some seasoned and some who have grown considerably in a few short months.

"We're always proud of the students," said Barth. "They always do such a phenomenal job, and this year is certainly no exception."

Best of luck to the cast of Broadway on Brick Row. We look forward to the performance!