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Dance ‘22 Set to Take Back the Stage

The first dance concert since the beginning of the pandemic will feature many up-and-coming dancers.

April 22, 2022

Electric music, bold lighting and jaw-dropping choreography will hit the stage at the Corbett Theatre this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday with Dance ‘22. This performance will mark the first dance concert for live audiences since March 2020 and is sure to make a splash with over 30 dancers.

Dance ‘22 features six different choreographed pieces, with four coming from guest artists and two from students, said director Tracey Bonner. 

Since the hiatus caused by the pandemic, Dance ‘22 will feature many new faces. 

“We have probably three-fourths of our cast [who] are brand new to our stage, so I think that gives us a lot of new energy and life,” associate professor and BFA coordinator Bonner said.

One new dancer, freshman and dance BFA major Ally van Haaren, credits Dance ‘22 for re-establishing her love for dance. After taking studio lessons as a toddler, she took a break from dance in high school. After participating in the Emerging Choreographer’s Showcase in the fall, she picked right back up. Dance ‘22 will be her first performance as a college student.

“I’ve never been stronger as a dancer,” van Haaren said. 

Much of this stamina comes from the preparation that has gone into the concert, with weekly rehearsals that began in January. Leading up to the Friday premiere, the dancers have been meeting for four hours daily to nail down their performances. 

Directing a concert with six different pieces is a challenge, Bonner said. Watching all the pieces come together, though, is the most rewarding experience for the director.

Junior health informatics major Hanson Nguyen said audiences can expect a variety of genres and there will be something for everyone. The styles range from modern and contemporary to a more traditional African piece.

“There are all different types of stories being told; some are more upbeat and some are slower,” Nguyen said.

For Nguyen, who has never had formal training, the biggest challenge was himself. He felt like he was auditioning against other dancers who were much more qualified, but he has seen his confidence grow immensely.

“I auditioned for something called Emerging Choreographer’s Showcase, which was last semester, and it went well. Then everyone encouraged me to do Dance ‘22,” Nguyen said. “I’ve gotten more confident because people have always told me, ‘You’re such a great dancer.’ I, of course, believe people, but with just not being trained I never have confidence in myself.”

Working with professional guest artists as well as director Bonner, who was a Broadway dancer, has been a unique and learning experience for the dancers. 

Many upperclassman leaders have emerged from Dance ‘22, with only one-fourth of the cast having previous NKU concert experience. One leader, junior Jess Shepherd, shared her passion for Dance ‘22.

“I love to dance, and I love the community of dancers that we have here [at NKU]. I also think the guest artists we have are very unique in their art, and they’re all creating something different and trying to portray different messages,” Shepherd said. 

Shepherd has taken on more than just a dance role for this concert, serving as a production assistant as well. This has allowed her to establish close relationships in the department and further her leadership skills. 

The dancers shared that performing in front of a large audience this weekend would be a great honor, especially with their return from the pandemic. Seeing a large crowd, Shepherd said, would amp up the already vibrant energy the dancers plan to bring to the stage. 

“Audiences are a part of our community too, even if they don’t think they’re dancers,” director Bonner said. “They can be a part of something too, and I think it’s about creating that sense of community that we’re all artists at heart.”

Dance ‘22 will take place at the Corbett Theatre on Fri., April 22 at 7:30p.m., Sat., April 23 at 7:30p.m., and Sun., April 24 at 2p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the box office or at nku.edu. 

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