WRA Fine & Performing Arts Department announces their first dance showcase of the year

WRA Fine & Performing Arts Department announces their first dance showcase of the year

Mark your calendars for our Fall Dance Showcase, Across the Divide, held in our Knight Fine Arts Center auditorium.

Saturday, Oct. 17 at 7 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 18 at 2 p.m.

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Fine & Performing Arts Department faculty member Katie Velbeck says the WRA dance teachers may have chosen this year's theme for the Fall Dance Showcase, but it was the student-dancers who named it Across the Divide.

"Our students were completely on board with trying to perform amid a pandemic even though it would look and feel a lot different than in years past," said Velbeck. "Over time, they've shared what it was like being apart in the spring and summer and also what it has been like dancing during this time. By calling it Across the Divide, we strive to encapsulate that wide range of emotions, emotions all of us experienced and are experiencing during COVID-19. Together, we adapted, came together, and did our best to support each other. In a time of fear and the unknown, we found that unity was greater than division. We all learned how to live, love, and overcome across the divide."

This year, dance classes have resumed, albeit taking new shape.

"As a department, our goal was to get back to in-person dancing instead of holding classes virtually like we had to do in the spring," said Velbeck. "To make that possible, we left our dance studios in the Knight Fine Arts Center and moved into the Memorial Gym in the MAC. We actually love the extra space, but it's an adjustment and we miss things like our dance mirrors. We also welcomed new Fine & Performing Arts Faculty member and Student Life Activities Coordinator Alexandria Anzaldi to the team."

Unlike the traditional Fall Dance Performance, this year's showcase will be shorter, the lineup won't include any solo performances and the stage will be a little more stark without any props to accompany the dancers. It's likely the audience member won't notice any of this, however, as they take in the dazzling array of ballet, modern, jazz and hip hop performances, the thoughtful lighting to punctuate the stage action and, above all, the storytelling that resonates with every dance performance.

"Each piece encompasses some feeling or emotion that we all had this year," said Velbeck. "We really tried to capture the highs and the lows. Our dancers have been doing such a great job performing and delving into the many emotions that we are asking of them. There are some things that just can't be expressed with words and for that, dance is perfect!"

The showcase has ten numbers with a total of 35 students performing, encompassing four sections of dance. It will last about 40 minutes and Velbeck says they had a lot of fun choosing music for it.

"We are so excited about the songs," Velbeck shared. "They are fun, popular and upbeat songs that most of the audience will recognize. We feel our song choices cover the many emotions that were felt during quarantine. Some songs are sad and emotional such as 'Lonely' by Noah Cyrus, and other songs are about friendship and having that one person you can always depend on like 'Count on Me' by Bruno Mars."

Perhaps, the biggest change of all is how the audience will experience this year's showcase.

"We are so proud of our resilient students, and we are excited to have them up on stage," Velbeck said. "And in staying COVID compliant, our Technical Theater Director Brandon Davies has done a wonderful job making our theatre safe for seating. He has removed much of the seating and spaced out the remaining chairs at a safe distance. In addition to having a live audience, our wonderful technology team will be live streaming the showcase on both days. The WRA community can find links to the live stream through the WRA Portal."

Best of luck to the cast of Across the Divide. We look forward to the performance!