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Dips, turns, and leaps in Spirit Dancing

As students were getting ready to finish another year, the dance department prepared for their last show as well. Spirit Dancing, which showed on April 17-18 at 8 p.m. and on April 19 at 3 p.m., was the perfect showcase of all that the dance majors and students have learned.

“Overall, the shows went well,” senior dance major Evelyn McGee said in an e-mail. “The dances were on and off some nights, but that’s the way shows are. You tend to expel all of your energy the first and last nights. Dancers have to work harder on the shows in between to keep the energy up.”

Sophomore Elizabeth Lyle agreed with McGee’s assessment. “The first night is always exciting because it is opening night, and the last night is exciting because everyone knows it’s the last time to perform the dances so they give it their all,” she said in an email.

Spirit Dancing contained dances of all shapes and sizes: Some were choreographed by the students themselves, others were choreographed by the professors of the dance department. There were dances like junior Jessica Bryan’s piece, “A Girl (Un)Done,” where she danced by herself on stage, and large group pieces like Janine Bryant’s “Studying Martha,” where a group of 19 dancers twirled and cartwheeled together until they exhaled as one at the end.

The two other professor-choreographed pieces were “Faint,” by Saleana Pettaway, and “In the Making,” by Dr. Joselli Deans.

“In the Making” was Eastern’s first official collaboration between two faculty members of two departments, Deans and David Bryant of the music department. This dance wove two musical motifs with three different “acts” leading from practice to performance, with the dancers not only dancing but acting at the same time.

Bryant went to almost all of the rehearsals to see what Deans was choreographing, assigning certain musical themes to the moves the dancers would do. “You end up hearing what you see,” he said. “It was like she built a house, and I went in and furnished it.”

There were a variety of inspirations for these pieces. McGee’s piece, “Journey,” was influenced by her grandmother, who has been fighting a serious illness. “She has my support and I will help carry her until Jesus comes to say ‘well done’ and carries her into eternity,” she said.

Junior Chelsea Simon acted as both choreographer and videographer for her piece entitled “Dear Mike.” Dedicated to ’08 alumnus Michael Skinner who died last December, she fit a recording of “Let It Be” and Bradley Hathaway’s “Hug Poem” to video and dancing as a memorial to his memory.

“I just wanted to convey the love we all had for him and the fact that he would be missed greatly,” Simon said in an e-mail.

Most of the student choreographers were also dancers in the show and were only allowed to dance in a maximum of three dances.

“Some of the dances were harder than others,” Lyle said, who had danced in “Studying Martha” and “Faint.” “I had such a great time dancing my heart out in both pieces!”

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