Around 1,000 attend ‘Spring into Dance' performances at River Campus

Monday, April 16, 2012
Kara Burley, Katie Farrell, Katrina Guittar, Rachel Hunsell and Shannon O’Keefe perform “Open to the Sky,” choreographed by Laura Roth on Sunday during the final day of “Spring Into Dance at Southeast Missouri State University’s River Campus. For a gallery of photos from the performances, visit semissourian.com. (Laura Simon)

More than 30 student dancers took to the stage of the Bedell Performance Hall at Southeast Missouri State University's River Campus for this year's "Spring Into Dance 2012" productions.

The group showcased their dancing skills in four performances, Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, and a Sunday matinee. Around 1,000 people attended the performances during the four-show run.

"These dancers perform out of a love for the art," said Dr. Marc Strauss, professor of Theatre and Dance at Southeast and artistic coordinator of "Spring Into Dance."

The dancers were all Southeast students who auditioned back in November, and have been rehearsing two to three days a week since early January.

The performances ran about 90 minutes and were made up of nine dance numbers, including classical ballet performed to live music, as well as contemporary, modern, jazz and lyrical dances.

"We really tried to include something for everyone," Strauss said.

Five of the dances were choreographed by three Southeast dance faculty members and four numbers were choreographed by students.

"Each year the dance concerts take on a certain character," said Strauss, who has been coordinating two dance performances of this format every year for the last five years. "This concert featured mostly classical pieces that were choreographed by faculty, and sound track pieces that were choreographed by students."

Also included in the performance was Bach's double violin concerto played by seven musicians.

"Brandon Christensen, who coordinated the musicians, and Elizabeth Ansberry were the lead violinists," Strauss said. "And Elizabeth is only 16 years old, which is amazing."

Unlike many performances where the musicians play unseen in the orchestra pit, the pit was raised halfway up so the musicians could be seen.

The level of talent in the dancers' performances continues to amaze Strauss and, he thinks, the audience.

"Each time the community comes out for one of our performances, I think they are impressed with more and more of the dancers. You really see their artistic growth," Strauss said. "I consider it a privilege to be able to contribute to that growth in any way."

Southeast students Shannon Walton, Kyle Morr and Madison Dote attended Sunday's performance.

"We are in the theater department at SEMO and have some friends in the dance performance that we came to see," Walton said.

The students said they believe in supporting each other's work.

"They come to see our plays and we come to see their dance performances," Morr said.

Parents of some of the dancers were also on hand to lend their support.

"My daughter, Amy, is in this performance," said Karen Coyle. "It's the second dance performance of her freshman year at SEMO."

Amy's father, Chris Coyle, offered his praises of the River Campus.

"This amazing facility is one of the things that drew Amy to Southeast," he said.

Other audience members have made attending the dance performances a yearly tradition.

"I've been coming for several years and always enjoy it," said Ashley Sewing. "I know dancer Chance Hill and especially enjoyed the number that he choreographed entitled 'Undocumented.' It was very different and really involved the audience."

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