Dance students dazzle on stage in final Student Spotlight

Dance students perform Tuesday night in Thunderground during the Student Spotlight Dance Concert, “The Thread."

Photos by Ralph Freso / Slideshow

Peace, love, heartache and sorrow.

Grand Canyon University dance program students drew from their life experiences and emotions and left it all on the dance floor at the spring Student Spotlight Dance Concert, “The Thread,” Monday and Tuesday evening in Thunderground.

Choreographed and designed by student dancers, the show featured styles ranging from contemporary to post-modern, ballet, jazz, hip-hop and tap. They were pieces that inspired multiple interpretations the audience could connect with.

“This show is a journey because it is so many different choreographers, so it is different thought processes,” said Crystal Fullmer, artistic director “They (student choreographers) are all in different places in their lives. There are some high, deep-thinking things, sad emotions and there is happy and fun. It is a journey, and that’s what life is.”

Julianne Pankau, sophomore dance major, performs a solo piece, "Ode to It All," choregraphed by Abi Rogalski.

More than 15 solos, duets and group numbers got the spotlight.

Julianne Pankau, sophomore dance major, was among the student choreographers who opened the show with an improvisational work featuring three musicians and one dancer.

“I’ve choreographed in the past for Student Spotlight, but this time I wanted to do something more creative,” Pankau said. “There is a meaning to every dance. I want them (the audience) to come to the show and take their own meaning away from it.”

Dance students perform a Johanna Loiseau-choreographed work called "HER."

The piece started off slow and mellow before it gradually sped up with dramatic, heart-thumping beats, creating an emotional roller coaster that resembled the ever-changing seasons of life.

In addition to choreographing, Pankau also made an appearance as a performer for a vulnerable, testimonial piece.

“It’s about my testimony, how God asked me to surrender a dream to Him that was very hard to let go of,” Pankau said. “But as God worked with my heart, I realized I gained so much more by letting go of something that was holding me down.

“A lot of choreographers love to tell Christ-based stories, testimonial stories, because we need that in the world.”

The last group piece of the evening was called "I'm Just a Girl," featuring choreography by Joy Palmer.

GCU dance students explored the diversity of dance by not only practicing different movement styles, but also expressing themselves through looks and themes featuring various music genres, fashion eras and background scenery.

Some showed off funky, colorful accent pieces, such as sunglasses and scarves, energetically dancing to “Satisfaction” by Benny Benassi and The Biz, while some showed off simple, minimalistic outfits and elegantly moved to “Amazing Grace” by Judy Collins.

Their commitment to the art showed through their dedication to the long preparation process. From submitting choreography proposals to the dance faculty for review, to designing costumes and musical compositions, to consistently rehearsing, to auditions and adjudications.

Dance majors have been intricately planning and composing their routines to tell their stories.

Joslyn Monthei (left) and Johanna Loiseau (right) show off their tap skills in "At The End of One's Hope," choreographed by Loiseau.

“It is a blessing to be picked to perform,” shared senior dance major Johanna Losieau. “We put a lot of work into these pieces as the semester goes on.

“This show really gives a perspective into our world. I feel safe in being able to explain myself through my movement and present that on stage. There is a place for everybody, and I have been able to do that in a multitude of different ways throughout my time here.”

For seniors like Losieau and Joy Palmer, the event is special because it is their last chance to showcase personally choreographed works alongside each other.

“This is one of the purest forms of student expressions that we have in our department. Everyone’s expression is valid and beautiful in its own way,” Palmer said. “It’s a huge honor to be picked to share my work for the last time and be on stage with everyone.”

Dance students take a bow at the end of their Student Spotlight, "The Thread."

And the audience showed their appreciation of that hard work by filling Thunderground and cheering on the performers.

“It is a wonderful reflection of the diversity of our students and their artistic points of view,” said Bekki Price, chair of the dance department. “A common thread is the way our students lift one another up to flourish, and I am so impressed by the quality of the work presented in this concert.”

GCU Staff Writer Izabela Fogarasi can be reached at [email protected]

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GCU Magazine

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