Student Spotlight Concert showcases dance talent

Seven live performances are showcased at the Spring Student Spotlight Dance Concert.

Story by Ashlee Larrison
Photos by Ralph Freso
GCU News Bureau 

What could make a week full of memorable events even better?

The Spring Student Spotlight Dance Concert, of course.

As alumni, families and friends make their long-awaited return to the Grand Canyon University campus, the College of Arts and Media’s Dance Department will wrap up this semester’s culmination of student choreography for all to see.

The concert first was staged Thursday night and returns to Thunderground at 7:30 Friday. Director of Dance Bekki Price says that it’s the perfect way for audiences to catch a glimpse of the rising talent emerging from the program.

Each Student Spotlight Dance Concert is an opportunity for students to highlight their own choreography.

“The students work so hard all semester, and this is something that they do on top of their schoolwork and attending classes,” she said. “It’s incredible what they put together and the way they’re able to express themselves and share their story using movement.”

The concert features seven live pieces of choreography and three films. The department began showcasing dance films at the concert during the pandemic and has kept the option open to students.

Price is continually amazed with the unique and creative ways students use the medium.

“I’m really excited about all the films that are being included,” Price said. “It’s not just that students are making dance films, but the quality of these dance films is super impressive.”

Dance films are perfect for senior Kendall Smith, pursuing a dual degree in dance and film.

Students created their pieces for the concert outside of the classes they attend.

In “Over the VOTSOD (Valley of the Shadow of Death),” Smith’s multitude of talents are on display as she and her video team incorporate CGI and visual effects.

“We decided to go big,” Smith said.

In addition to presenting her film at the concert, Smith is also the production’s stage manager.

“It a little stressful, but it’s a lot of fun to see the show come together,” she said. “As a dance student, I’m very grateful that we have a student show. It’s just very accessible, and it’s been a really fun environment.”

Senior Zoë Hunter's film, “Isaiah 55,” is a collaboration with Canyon Worship artist Amanda Riffe and choreographed around Riffe’s song of the same name.

There will be a wide array of emotions and messages depicted through the performances and films.

Hunter said she chose to present her work through film because it allows more creative freedom.

“Dance films are really interesting in that you have the creativity to have unique perspectives that you don’t get to see when you’re looking at a piece live,” she said. “Having the ability to creatively edit, it is also exciting.”

Junior Hailey Boggs, who submitted the concert's final film, “Vol. 22,” said this performance has given her the opportunity to experience both the film and live aspect of the concert since she also performs in multiple live pieces.

As dance films continue to grow in popularity among students, so do opportunities for recognition. Boggs’ film was selected to be shown at the Arizona Drive-in Dance Film Festival earlier in the semester.

“It was just a cool experience to have my film shown in a real-life setting and to be recognized,” she said.

Admission to the concert is free.

As for the Student Spotlight Concert, Boggs hopes audiences will come out to enjoy the free art.

“The art of music or dance itself is just soothing for any human being,” she said, “It’s free art, it’s so amazing and I feel the students are so talented and feel like people are going to be surprised with what the Dance Department has to show.”

Said Price, “It’s an incredible opportunity to find out different ways to hear people’s story. This Family Weekend, I encourage students to come bring their families and check out what’s going on in Thunderground.”


Student pieces


Choreographed by: Sammi Lopresti

Performed by: Hailey Boggs, Cait Deely, Jordan

Garrison, Joslyn Monthei, Emma Watson

Music: “Good Job - He was a Beautiful Player”

by J.K. Simmons, “Drum & Drone” by Justin Hurwitz,

“No Two Words” by Justin Hurwitz and Nicholas Britell


Choreographed by: Kylie Silves

Performed by: Kiera Boatman, Jaeda Bozich, Josie

Fillmore, Joslyn Monthei

Music: “Reset” by Christophe Filippe


Choreographed and performed by: Megan Neese

Music: “Le Sacre” by Christophe Filippi


Choreographed by: Jenna LaPlante

Performed by: Olivia Boatright, Kenzie Brandon,

Mikaela Lures, Madeline Lynch, Cortnee Porras, Sarah

Ross, Jazmin Runnels, Kylie Silves, Belle Winsor

Music: “Journey” by Looptrick


Choreographed by: Zoë E. Hunter

Performed by: Davin Brown (camera),

Zebastyn Getrost (camera), Zoë E. Hunter (dancer),

Amanda Riffe (singer)

Music: “Isaiah 55” by Amanda Riffe


Choreographed by: Kendall Smith

Performed by: Cait Deely, Jenna LaPlante,

Sammi Lopresti, Jonathan Montoya Gerardo, Nayeli

Pereyda Vasquez, Sheryl Powell, Abi Rogalski, Leah

Ruetz, Jazmin Runnels, Kendall Smith, Jael Vickery,

Belle Winsor

Director: Rerun Knutson

Cinematographer: Sean Pedrick

Visual Effects Director: Paolo Martinez

Music: “Re Installation” by Joseph Beg,

“The Hydrograph” by Power Druid


Choreographed and performed by: Hailey Boggs

Filmed by: Macenzie Bishop

Music: “Letters of A Traveler” by Ólafur Arnalds

and Alice Sara Ott, “Overthinking Will Kill Your Reality”

by Alan Watts


Choreographed by: Trinity Gracia

Performed by: Kiera Boatman, Cait Deely, Destiny

Magee, Megan Neese, Joy Palmer, Cortnee Porras,

Kylie Silves, Emma Watson

Music: “Kyklopas” by K. BHTA, Kornelios Selamsis,

ARTéfacts Ensemble


Choreographed by: Abi Rogalski

Performed by: Anna Alber, Josie Fillmore, Dominique

Merrell, Joslyn Monthei, Taylin Muth, Abi Rogalski

Music: “I Love You” by Riopy


Choreographed by: Elijah Samuél Figueroa

Performed by: Elijah Samuél Figueroa, Megan Neese,

Joy Palmer, Emma Watson, Hailey Boggs, Cait Deely,

Jordan Garrison

Music: Live It Up” by Jennifer Lopez feat. Pitbull

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


Related content:

GCU Today: Dance concerts return to Ethington this weekend

GCU Today: Students’ dance concert returns to indoor setting


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