Summer dance program’s intensity is contagious

July 13, 2017 / by / 0 Comment

By Laurie Merrill
GCU News Bureau

In groups of about eight, the dancers attending Grand Canyon University’s Summer Dance Intensive sprang up high as they stepped and pivoted, stepped and pivoted — and then brushed the floor with a toe.  

“Imagine there’s a globe of energy surrounding you,” directed Kevin Godfrey-Chevalier, dance faculty member in GCU’s College of Fine Arts and Production.

“I want you to imagine you have paint on all your fingers and all your toes,” he said. “I want you to paint to kinesphere!”

Turiya Chavez (left), a GCU dance major and Summer Dance Intensive counselor, practices at the bar with other students. (Photo by Travis Neely)

Kristy Swanson, who traveled from Goshen, Ind., to attend the weeklong camp, stretched her arms gracefully as she leaped and spun, a smile shining on her face as energy surged in her limbs.

“I love the intensity,” Swanson said during a break. “It challenges me. It is much, much more in line with what I really like.”

At the same time, Swanson said, “it’s also very encouraging.’’

Darjenna Shephard, from Yuma, said that any dance style beyond classic ballet demands her full attention, and she enjoys the stimulation even though she has been dancing since she was 3.

The Dance Intensive consists of a variety of classes including ballet, jazz, composition, contemporary, world dance and health  plus multiple instructors and chances for the dancers to

Students in the Summer Dance Intensive program enjoy a variety of classes, instructors and activities. (Photo by Travis Neely)

create their own choreography.

“I’ve learned that I can pick up choreography very quickly,” Shephard said.

Shephard, Swanson and the estimated 18 other dancers enrolled in the camp are the ideal ages for learning dance, said Susannah Keita, GCU’s Director of Dance.

Their joy and willingness is like a tonic for her. At the start of the session, she said, it’s tempting to think, “Oh, it’s a long week ahead. But then you walk in, and all of these young, enthusiastic students are here. It reignites my passion for teaching.”

The quality of GCU’s dance program also is like a tonic for both Shephard and Swanson, who now plan to attend the University.

“I want to go to this college,” Swanson said. “I love the atmosphere and how positive everyone is.”

Dance faculty member Kevin Godfrey-Chevalier (left) displays a move in his jazz class. (Photo by Laurie Merrill)

Shephard attends Arizona Western College in Yuma but plans on becoming a Lope like her mother, who earned her nursing degree at GCU.

“I want to train as a dance teacher but study to be a physical therapist so I can help other dancers,” Shephard said.

Camp counselor Turiya Chavez of Flagstaff said she was a GCU College of Education major before switching to dance.

“My plan is to make it to a big city and audition like crazy,” Chavez said, shaking her shoulders with a laugh and adding, “I love weird and meaningful art.”

The program includes movie night, scavenger hunt,  ice cream social, pool party, improv, Hip-Hop,  campus tours and more and culminates with a final performance at 4 p.m. Friday in Thunderground.  

Contact Laurie Merrill at (602) 639-6511 or [email protected].


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