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About Me

Shifting Ground: New Voices in Dance

February 26, 2013

As February comes to an end, the only thing on the minds of UR’s University Dancers is our annual Spring Dance Concert.  From March 1st to the 3rd, we will be performing for the public in the Modlin Center’s Alice Jepson Theater. Because we have prepared for this concert the entire academic year (starting the very first week of school in August), we are VERY ready for this concert.  Some people do not know the lives of dancers, especially the lives of the University Dancers at Richmond. So, to give everyone a little insight into what being a University Dancer entails, I want to tell a little more about a usual week in UD as well as what show week is like. 

 Four out of five evenings of the school week we are in Frederick rehearsal hall, taking technique classes (ballet, modern, and jazz) and then have rehearsal afterwards. On Friday’s we have Company Piece rehearsal. A tradition of UD at Richmond, company piece is completely choreographed by the entire company, not just one or two people. As anyone can imagine, it can be a bit tedious to attempt to hear and apply 17 individuals’ opinions into a five minute piece. However, this year’s piece finally came together in the last month or so and is actually the opening to the concert.  After technique classes, our rehearsals can last from one hour to three or four hours, depending on the amount of pieces each of us is in.  When guest artists arrive to set pieces on the company, casts usually spend an upwards of 20 hours a week, including rehearsals on the weekends. This schedule is what we follow throughout the entire fall and beginning of the spring semester, but starts to greatly change as the concert comes upon us. Here’s the kicker though, many of us aren’t even Dance Majors or even Minors, but do it because we love it. There are all sorts of majors in UD, from Chemistry/Physics to Business and from Journalism to Sociology. We are a pretty impressive group if I do say so myself, and spend just as much time rehearsing and training as any other Varsity Athletic team on campus. But as the concert approaches, our lives do really revolve around the UD calendar and everything else is put on hold for Tech Week. 

I think everyone should have to experience one Tech Week in their lifetime for the sole purpose of being able to appreciate not just performers, but all of the technicians and technical aspects of any show, recital, or performance. The people backstage, who spend even more time there than the dancers, are responsible for making the magic that comes alive on stage. I have never heard of any dancer who could perform more beautifully onstage without costumes or lighting than with it.  But lights and costumes are the only things that contribute; it is the communications that occur between the technical crew (light/sound board operators, stage managers, assistant stage managers, run crew, dressers) that make the show happen.  Shout out to all of the crew for Shifting Ground, y’all are the best and UD would be nothing without every single one of you. Also, I would also like to send a shout out to the Costume shop and especially Johann Stegmeir and Heather Hogg for designing and constructing the most beautiful costumes year after year. As an employee at the costume shop, I’ve seen and assisted on parts of the different costumes, and it amazes me that all of it gets finished, and finished well, in a short couple of weeks. 

Now that I’ve given a shout out the Crew and designers, I have to mention the work of the company’s director, Anne Van Gelder. As a professor in the Department of Theater and Dance and the Director of UD, Anne has spent every night with us in the studio learning guest artists’ choreography, teaching ballet, leading us in warm ups, and directing our rehearsals. Somehow, she even manages to remember our injuries and is always ready with advice on how to deal with any physical issues.  Basically, Anne is our director, advocate, supporter, and mom. Thanks Anne for all you do!

I know you all are probably thinking “enough with the shout outs,” but I cannot talk about the concert without talking about all the elements that go into this one weekend of performances. As this tech week continues, I am constantly reminded of how much University Dancers has become my family at Richmond for the last two years. Spending almost every day in a relatively small space with the same group of people makes us all pretty close with one another, not to mention that we sometimes have to roll around with/on each other, sweat and all. Though we all are excited to have more free time in the spring after the concert is over, it’s bittersweet to acknowledge that the same group of us will never be on stage altogether after the concert. Seniors graduate (still in denial about this), juniors go abroad, and new members arrive every year to join the company.  However, the dance world is small, and dancers always keep in touch. We’ve already started to receive well wishes of “Merde” (it’s a dance term to wish good luck) from past University Dancers that have graduated.  

Now that I about to cry because I can’t believe the week is almost over, I must invite EVERYONE to attend! Go to modlin.richmond.edu or call the box office at (804) 289-8980 to buy tickets. After dancing for long hours, dealing with painful injuries, bruises, and floor burns, smelling like BioFreeze every day, all day, and tapping into our performance selves, we are ready to give a great show so please come to support us and our University Dancer family. :]

Some of the choreographers and info about the concert!

PS: The costumes are all really beautiful, but be on the lookout for my crazy-awesome grey pants in Alicia Diaz’s piece! 

I’m currently a sophomore at the University of Richmond and interested in Dance and Sociology. I applied Early Decision to Richmond because it had such a great mix of everything I was looking for academically and holds a deep appreciation for the arts. When I’m at school you can usually find me dancing in Frederick Rehearsal Hall, enjoying my study time in Boatwright Memorial Library, or trying to entertain my roommate with my jokes and facial expressions. Cookies are my favorite food, though macaroni and cheese is a close second. I am a part of the University Dancers for a second year in a row - and I love it! Something interesting about me: a major goal of mine is to be on the ‘Jeopardy’ show.