Spring Dance Concert ready to POP into Ethington

April 08, 2019 / by / 0 Comment

By Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau

As T.S. Eliot would say, this is the way the semester ends, this is the way the semester ends, this is the way the semester ends, not with a BANG, but with a POP.

Wrapping up Ethington Theatre’s spring 2019 semester this weekend, the Spring Dance Concert will bring music from across the decades to the stage for a familiar yet brand new experience for audiences — everything from ’90s boy band tributes to a performance inspired by David Bowie.

Students rehearse for the Spring Dance Concert. (Photo by David Kadlubowski)

“We are confident that the ‘Dance Department Goes POP!’ Spring Dance Concert will be a crowd-pleaser,” said Susannah Keita, Director of Dance for the College of Fine Arts and Production.

Keita and Dance Department faculty member Kevin Godfrey-Chevalier came up with the theme of this semester’s concert a year ago while talking with Dance artist Christy McNiel-Chand, who came to campus to work with the ensemble last year.

“Her university program had done something similar and it was a rousing success,” Keita said. “Often, college dance programs earn the reputation of presenting only obtuse, abstract work. We don’t subscribe to that philosophy.”

Guest artist and Broadway dancer/choreographer Ray Mercer, who did a guest artist residency earlier this year, also will have a piece in the concert, which will showcase genres such as contemporary, tap, ballet as well as classical jazz.

Godfrey-Chevalier said his piece “is a fun and sassy jazz” that celebrates Bowie: “With the ‘POP! Goes the Dance Department’ theme, I wanted to use the music of an iconic pop star like David Bowie and bring it to the concert dance arena in a fun way.”

Leanne Schmidt and Marlene Strang, alongside their cast of handpicked performers, put together an experimental piece through a collaborative process that involved Strang starting the piece and Schmidt finishing it.

Ray Mercer flew in from New York City to work with the Ethington Dance Ensemble.

“I walked into rehearsal midway through the semester having no idea what they had been working on,” Schmidt said. “I pieced the material together over the past four weeks. The dancers made all of the movement with (our) direction.”

Schmidt said the piece is bound to stand out at the concert, largely because of its incorporation of comedy and theatre.

“The result is vocabulary that ping-pongs between modern dance vocabulary and absurd and mundane everyday tasks,” Schmidt said. “I guarantee it will be one of a kind at the concert.”

The Dance Department also has invited its elementary dance tour to bring a piece from its 2019 production to perform at Monday’s student matinee performance, and student groups such as the Hip-Hop Club will perform pop-up concerts outside the theatre before the Saturday and Sunday performances.

“There is something for everyone in the concert,” Godfrey-Chevalier said. “From comedy dance to jazz to music from the ’80s and ’90s, and even tap and hip-hop, it’s a jam-packed show that is sure to get everyone smiling and bopping along in their seats.”


What: “POP! Goes the Dance Department,” the spring dance concert

Where: Ethington Theatre, GCU campus

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, April 12-13, and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 14

Tickets: $12 (discounts for senior citizens, military personnel, GCU employees and alumni, children 12 years old and younger, and GCU students)

Information: 602-639-8880 or click here

  • BOWIE!!
    • Choreographer: Kevin Godfrey-Chevalier
    • Music: Lets Dance by David Bowie, Fame by David Bowie
    • Dancers: Abby Neighbors, Cassandra McGehee, Chesney Thompson, Ellie Sheldon, Grace Valega, Hannah Croft, Isiah Johnson, Ivy Rose, Madeline Bosse, Melissa Morales, Rylie Pryately, Jillian Nelson (understudy)
  • Pop Stars in the Sky
    • Choreographer: Suzy Guarino-Hall
    • Music: Radio GaGa by Queen, Scream by Michael and Janet Jackson, Freedom by George Michael
    • Dancers: Abigail Cavanaugh, Anna Sanamyan, Carissa Eubank, Chesney Thompson, Eleanor Jimenez, Hannah Croft, Jaryn Leming, Julia Geringer, Kenzi Abalos, Emily Marks (understudy)
  • Waiting to Be Free
    • Choreographer: Susannah Keita
    • Music: Blackbird by Brad Mehldau
    • Dancers: Abigail Cavanaugh, Alexandra Roth, Brittany White, Grace Valega, Hannah Ahr, Kaitlyn Merrill, Lazette Tirado, Olivia Neitzel, Sarah Beebe, Hannah Bridgeo, Jaryn Leming (understudy)
  • Staggered Starting Line
    • Choreographer: Alicia Nascimento
    • Music: Rhythm Nation by Janet Jackson, This Is America by Childish Gambino, Cada Voz by Tulipa Ruiz, l’amour est un oiseau rebelle by Georges Bizet
    • Dancers: Alyssa Quiett, Anna Sanamyan, Cassandra McGehee, Destiny Magee, Elijah Figueroa, Guillermo Flores-Sepulveda, Hannah Croft, Isiah Johnson, James Lantz, Kenzi Abalos Madeline Bosse, Melissa Morales, Kendall Smith (understudy)
    • Program note: The piece comes in response to the current environment where people seem divided on so many issues. A faith-based call to reform the unending injustices of hate, racism and oppression. Ephesians 2:14 — “For He himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.”
  • I love the ’90s
    • Choreographer: Rebecca Blair Price in collaboration with the dancers
    • Video: Ryan Brennan
    • Music: Hangin’ Tough by New Kids on the Block, Quit Playing Games with my Heart by Backstreet Boys, Whenever, Wherever by Shakira, Genie in a Bottle by Christina Aguilera, I Wanna Love You Forever by Jessica Simpson, One More Time by Britney Spears, I Know What You Want by Chesney Thompson, Pop by N’sync, Slam Dunk (Da Funk)’ by Five
    • Dancers: Anna Sanamyan, Brittany White, Cassandra McGehee, Chesney Thompson, Elijah Figueroa, Ellie Sheldon, Grace Valega, Guillermo Flores-Sepulveda, Ivy Rose, Janessa Hill, Julia Geringer, Madeline Bosse, Melissa Morales, Ryan Ardelt, Rylie Pryately, Sarah Beebe, Patrick Devine
  • Oh, baby
    • The dancers, with direction by Leanne Schmidt and Marlene Strang
    • Music: Don’t You Want Me by Human League, Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice, BGB by Party Song Instrumental, Where Did Our Love Go by The Supremes, Halo by The Saxophone Hit Players
    • Dancers: Alyssa Quiett, Carissa Eubank, Guillermo Flores-Sepulveda, Hannah Ahr, Hannah Bridgeo, Isiah Johnson, Jillian Nelson, Justine Bach, Patrick Devine
    • Program note: This work was created through an experimental collaborative process in two parts: 1. The creation of material, 2. The organization of material. The faculty choreographers were never in the studio together. This work belongs to the dancers, baby.
  • Title TBA
    • Choreographer: Jorge “House” Magana
    • Music: TBA
    • Dancers: Alysa Sandoval, Alyssa Quiett, Brittany White, Chesney Thompson, Grace Valega, Ivy Rose, Kelly Ramirez, Kenzi Abalos, Lazette Tirado, Sidney Williams, Ellie Sheldon (understudy)
  • Pretty is …
    • Choreographer: Ray Mercer
    • Music: Their First Time by Adam Taylor, Tied Down by Adam Heinreich, Mimi by Senking, Growing Up Londinium by Daniel Pemberton
    • Dancers:  Abbi Cavanaugh, Abby Neighbors, Alyssa Quiett , Anna Sanamyan, Cassandra McGehee, Chesney Thompson, Destiny Magee, Hannah Croft, Isiah Johnson, Ivy Rose, James Lantz, Madeline Bosse

Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected]


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