GUDC: warming up

By the

April 19, 2001

The Walsh Blackbox Theater buzzes with activity as the Georgetown University Dance Company rehearses for its upcoming Spring Performance. A mix of students wrapped in layers of sweaters dart back and forth across what will, come Friday, become the audience’s seating area. While they are not tense, they do exude a mood that suggests a certain sense of urgency.

At the far end of the room, however, five dancers mark out their steps as a man guiding them from the front of the stage sings out the notes; each one in near-perfect time with the dancers’ nimble feet. These six figures form a remarkably contrasting scene to their more technically-concerned counterparts. Tights, sleeveless leotards and gently swirling skirts have replaced the bulky sweatshirts, yet sweat still beads on their arms and backs as they leap and pirouette across the stage.

“It’s a culmination of an entire semester,” student co-director Elizabeth Brown (CAS ‘02) says of the program as the houselights come up and down. “We do a completely different set of pieces (than the fall performance). Our priority is student choreography, but we also have a few professional pieces.”

For over 20 years, the GU Dance Company has been providing the University community with two major performances each year, as well as appearing in other fine arts events such as the Performing Arts Showcase. The current troupe of 23 dancers possesses a repertoire that includes such varied disciplines as modern, ballet, hip-hop, jazz and tap.

Nine of the company’s pieces will be showcased in this weekend’s Spring Performance. Those selected reflect the stylistic strengths of the company, as well as the interests of the student choreographers.

“We seem to be really strong right now in ballet,” Brown said with a laugh and a nod towards the dancers still rehearsing on the stage. “This show is actually heavier in ballet (four pieces) than we’ve ever done, but we usually try to keep them pretty diverse.”

Lively classical music fills the room, and the dancers once again practice their graceful opening steps to “Opus III,” choreographed by guest Roger Plout. Their steps progress into a dizzying array of turns as the dancers for the next rehearsal time trickle in through the door. They sit, stretch and watch their fellow company members execute their moves. The piece is strenuous to begin with and its length adds to the difficulty it poses for the performers. The dancers’ pleasure in the challenge is evident, however, for even following a missed beat, six smiles find their way onto the sweat-gleaming faces.

GUDC is performing Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. in the Walsh Blackbox Theater.

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