‘Wicked’ performer steps into residency at GCU

January 12, 2015 / by / 0 Comment

By Janie Magruder
GCU News Bureau

Students in Grand Canyon University’s dance program will benefit from the expertise and experience of two guest artists this semester, beginning today with a weeklong residency by Los Angeles-based Amy Michele Allen.

Guest artists are invited to the University to expand students’ knowledge, skill and cultural perspective, said Leanne Schmidt, a College of Fine Arts and Production faculty member who teaches a variety of dance classes. The residency program also gives students opportunities to network with professional dancers, choreographers and educators, Schmidt said.

The guest artists this semester will teach master classes and create an original work with the students that will be performed at the Spring Dance Concert on April 17-18.

Amy Michele Allen

Amy Michele Allen

At the head of the class this week is Allen, who has performed musical theatre works of such notable choreographers as Bob Fosse, Agnes de Mille, Susan Stroman, Gower Champion and Michael Bennett. She also danced in the first national tour of “Wicked” and has performed on the National Geographic Channel and the Holland America Line and at Tokyo DisneySea.

Allen, who is professionally trained in jazz, classical ballet, tap, modern dance, hip-hop and musical theatre, studied at the River North Chicago Dance Company and Giordano Dance Chicago and with Andy Blankenbuehler and Gelsey Kirkland. This summer, Allen is coordinating a course, “The ‘It’ Factor: What Makes a Dancer a Star,” for the California State University Summer Arts Program at Cal State Monterey Bay. She has an MFA in Dance from the University of California, Irvine.

At GCU, Allen is teaching three master classes — a “Wicked” repertoire class, one in musical theatre and “Acting for Dance,” which she designed to help students cultivate their stage presence.

“I find most dancers concern themselves primarily with technical training in class and rehearsal, and then when it comes time to perform, they are expected to intuitively know how to captivate an audience,” she said. “Most audience members can distinguish between those dancers who ‘light up the stage’ and the dancers who are beautifully, maybe, going through the motions. I address this reality and lead students through acting exercises to improve performance quality.”

Allen also is staging a dance that will explore the concept of a dilemma: making a choice between two undesirable options. It will be performed in April.

“Although dancers more literally illustrate the dilemma one goes through when deciding whether or not to end a relationship, it represents any situation in which someone has a difficult decision to make,” she said.

On Feb. 9-13, GCU students will learn from and work with guest artist Kimberly Karpanty, an associate professor of dance at Kent State University and artistic director of the Kent Dance Ensemble. Karpanty, who has a MFA in Choreography and Dance Technology from Arizona State University, has performed professionally in New York City and has created more than 50 dances during her career.

Contact Janie Magruder at 602-639-8018 or [email protected]

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