GCU dancers take daring journey to final senior showcase

GCU dancers perform "Questions of Power" at the rehearsal for senior showcase "Odyssey."

Photos by Ralph Freso / Slideshow

After long hours of practice, early mornings and late nights for the last 14 weeks, senior dance students from Grand Canyon University are ready for their final showcase at Ethington Theatre, the highly anticipated "Odyssey" at 7:30 p.m. today and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.

That intense preparation fits the production's theme.

“Going along with the 75th anniversary of the school, the theme is about a long journey that isn’t always easy. It may come with some rough spots, twists and turns, but it aligns us with where we are and want to be,” says Bekki Price, chair of the dance department.

One featured piece shows off colorful and fun dance moves.

The showcase is a combination of various dance styles, including tap, contemporary, contemporary ballet and jazz. It is both slow and fast, emotional yet steady. Just how one’s life journey can be.  

“Finding my truth has been my journey as a dancer and a person here at GCU,” said Emma Watson, senior dance major. “Coming in freshman year, I had an idea of my personal dance style but over the course of three and a half years here at GCU that’s only been defined more through my educators and training, pushing me to find my own unique style and voice through dance.”

The journey for GCU dance majors has been a personal and group effort. While each student has developed individual styles and techniques, the dance department also has grown together as a team.

Dance students perform an elegant and emotional piece.

“Our senior piece showcases our class coming in separated but over the years we have integrated and shared spaces together. From freshman year to senior year, we’ve gone from strangers to a tight-knit community,” said Joy Palmer, senior dance major.

Faculty and guest dance artists have played a crucial part in choreographing a list of numbers with eccentric and eclectic routines that present various styles and personalities. Each reflect different stages of that journey experience.

“‘Finding Hallelujah’ (a featured piece) is epic. Inspiration came from the book of Exodus and the burning bush where Moses is told to take his shoes off for standing on holy ground,” explains Crystal Fullmer, dance instructor and choreographer. “I wanted to explore the meaning of the shoes potentially representing the sin because they touch the sinful Earth, as well as our sinful nature. The dancers have to decide if they want to take their shoes off. The dance shows that journey, which goes along with the overall 'Odyssey' theme.”

Dance students perform "The Mock."

The empowering piece shows how many challenges are encountered in any journey. It is a back-and-forth battle, picking between moving forward and sticking with old ways.

In addition, nine other pieces composed of elegant, yet bold moves will make up the story line of “Odyssey.” Upbeat jazz stomping and shimmering, kicking and one-foot turning and funky, heart-pumping routines will shake the stage.

“It’s a special group of seniors for me because we came into GCU together at the same time,” added Fullmer. "I have made a special connection with them because they have had me for all their ballet classes almost every semester. It’s been special to see how far they have come in the last three years.”

Rehearsal for“Odyssey” at Ethington Theatre had all shades of feeling.

The production is a reflection of the journey in more ways than one. GCU has reached its 75th year, senior students are approaching the end of their college journey, and with a deep, sentimental connection, this is Fullmer’s first graduating class.

“Being seniors, we have been able to experience so much growth in everybody over the last four years. It’s really unique to see how we all come together for one big show, and it’s extra special this being our last fall semester together,” says Johanna Loiseau, senior dance major.

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

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Related Content:

GCU News: Guest artists challenge GCU students to explore the diversity of dance

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