From the Studio to the Stage

 Everybody dances. Whether it be to a string quartet on a ballroom floor or to the latest Ke$ha single in the driver’s seat of your car, it is hard to resist moving your body (even just a little!) when the music comes on. “There’s something really natural about dancing,” says senior dance major Emily Lynn, who is also majoring in communication studies. But unlike the front-seat dancer, Lynn and three other Eastern seniors chose to pursue this form of art as their major.
“I found dance to be a good outlet for expressing things that words cannot,” says senior dance major Hannie Brake, on why she is compelled to the discipline. “I’m pretty introverted, and I don’t have to be introverted when I dance.” Senior Theresa Ford, double majoring in dance and missions and anthropology, echoes this sentiment, “I feel like my best self when I’m dancing.”
And of course, many of the dancers see dance as a religious experience. “I’ve utilized it as a form of worship,” says Angela Littlefield, another senior dance major. “Dance goes hand-in-hand with my relationship with God.” Lynn agrees, saying that “it wasn’t until college that I realized how much my relationship with Jesus is connected to the gift of dance.”
After four years of hard work, long rehearsals, and rigorous study, all of the senior dance majors are preparing for their culminating project, a senior dance concert which will take place on the nights of February 15th and 16th.
In preparation for the concert, the dancers must come up with and choreograph a specific concept, and then audition dancers, oversee rehearsals, and coordinate lights and music. “We all look forward to being a senior and doing our own work,” says Littlefield, whose portion of the show will focus on sex trafficking. “It’s my way to bring awareness to an issue that is uncomfortable and not really talked about,” she says, noting that some of the choreography might be slightly unpleasant. “Sometimes the choreography might make the audience uncomfortable.”
Hannie Brake promises that “it’s going to be an interesting show, because all of the pieces are totally different.” In that vein, Brake’s portion of the concert will focus on Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel, “Little Women.” “It’s a very genuine story,” she says. “The characters aren’t perfect, and the author admits that. You see their flaws. The stories don’t always end happily.” As for the choreography, this part of the show will feature ballet interspersed with some subtle acting, all set to a combination of Chopin and the “Final Fantasy” soundtrack.
At least one other portion of the concert deals with literature, as Theresa Ford is using dance to explore her interest in poetry. “I’ve always liked poetry,” she says, “and the past couple of years, a couple of poems have been really influential.” And the start of each dance, the poem that it is about will be read to the audience. She says that “a lot of the poems are really relational, so the dancing features a lot of physical touch.” The music to which the dances are set is also relational: the entire score was written by one of Ford’s high school friends, who will perform it live during the concert.
Emily Lynn hopes to capture the audience with her segment of the concert, which she has titled “The Journey of Joy.” It looks at how joy plays out in our lives as Christians,” she says. “Joy is for us, and it was bought at a price. Jesus came so that we can have life.” The choreography here will feature both solos and duets, to show both the individual and collective journey of joy. “Joy is an individual choice, but it is manifested in our relationships.”
As seniors who have been majoring in dance for several years, the dancers are able to share a well-rounded perspective of Eastern’s dance department. For example, it is rare for a Christian school to even offer this program, and Eastern is one of a handful in the country that does. This is evidence that the administration recognizes something that many do not – that dancing, and the human body in general, is not evil and can be used to glorify God. Unfortunately, the dance department’s current facilities are not ideal, as there is only one studio on campus. But Lynn notes the silver lining to this dilemma. “Our facilities keep our community tight,” she says. “Some days we’re in class together for eight hours. We are in there dancing until midnight sometimes.”
Come witness the product of the dance majors’ four years of late nights and hard work at the senior dance concert, which will take place at 8 p.m. on February 15th and 16th in the McInnis Auditorium.       

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