Two Student Dancers Live Out Their Passion at GCU

December 14, 2011 / by / 0 Comment

By Jennifer Willis
Communications Staff

For a dancer, being onstage is the culmination of a lot of hard work and dedication. It is the end result of countless hours of classes and practice and missed social outings with friends.

But as any serious performer knows, sharing your art with others becomes a passion. For two such dancers who will perform Thursday and Friday in “Legacy,” the 2011 Winter Dance Concert at Ethington Theatre, that passion to dance has become their lives.

Kiera Ryckman moved to the United States from Canada at the age of 5. She started dancing when a neighbor got her interested and immediately fell in love participating in dance competitions through high school, in the pom and jazz styles.

“It was such a great experience,” Ryckman says. “I learned so much from dance. And the competition part was great team building.”

Taking some classes at Scottsdale Community College, Ryckman originally planned to transfer to the University of California at Santa Barbara, even auditioning for its dance program and being accepted.

She couldn’t afford it, though, and that’s when she saw a presentation about GCU by Director of Dance Susannah Keita. She transferred to GCU and has loved it.

“Because the program is relatively new, I’ve been able to help build it,” Ryckman says.  “I’ve put in suggestions for a better program, and Susannah has been there every step of the way. I feel like my opinions are respected.”

Leesa Chaparro started dancing baile folklórico, a style of traditional Latin American dance that emphasizes local folk culture with ballet characteristics, when she was 5. She continues to dance with the same group of folklórico dancers to this day.

Chaparro originally came to GCU as a nursing major. After her first year, though, she had a change of heart.

“With nursing, dance was out of the picture,” Chaparro says. “I wasn’t OK with that. When I changed my major to dance education, no one was surprised. It seems my family all knew I would change before I did.”

Eventually, Chaparro wants to open her own studio and share her passion of dance with others.

“I want to inspire kids the way I was inspired,” she says.

“Legacy” will feature seven performances showcasing different styles of dance.

Ryckman will perform in a piece choreographed by Jessica Rajko, titled “Outside (Inside).” It’s a piece inspired by famous German dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch.

“I love this piece,” Ryckman says. “It’s a modern piece that is based on social psychology and coming to terms with individuality.”

“I knew Jessica before this semester, and her style is very comfortable. It’s a very beautiful piece.”

Chaparro will perform in two pieces, one choreographed by Keita (“Zuspitzen”) and one by Zari Le’on (“Walk Good”).

“I really enjoy Susannah’s piece,” Chaparro says. “It’s a jazz number that deals with misplaced anger. It tells a sort of different story about not being OK with yourself and taking it out on others. It’s a really neat piece.

“Zari’s piece is fantastic. It’s got a whole bunch of everything mixed into one. There is jazz and ballet, and she even asked me for some folklórico input. It kind of shocked me because I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to incorporate that style of dance to the chosen music. But it opened up a sense of creativity for me that I hadn’t experienced before. It’s crazy, wild, fun and an all-around great piece.”

Both students are excited to show others what they have worked so hard for, and they promise that audiences won’t be disappointed.

“I think this year is going to be amazing because of all the different genres of dance being highlighted,” Chaparro says. “There is a little something for everyone.”

“Legacy” is at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday in Ethington Theatre. Tickets are $10. Order by phone at 639.8880 or via email at [email protected].

Contact Jennifer Willis at 639.7383 or Jenn[email protected].

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