William and Mary Students show off their artistic growth at "An Evening of Dance"


For the eighth year, the College of William and Mary’s Orchesis Modern Dance Company will present student-choreographed work at “An Evening of Dance.”

Leah Glenn, director of dance and associate professor at the college, said this year there will be 10 student-choreographed routines performed. She said Orchesis is a modern dance company, so all performances will be modern and contemporary works.

“It’s a nice eclectic group of pieces and there will be something for everyone,” Glenn said.

Glenn said this showcase is a great way to introduce the community to modern and contemporary dance.

Antonella Nicholas, a senior with Orchesis, said modern dance with its with contractions and more bent over movements is a departure from more formal dance, such as ballet.

“At the turn of the 20th century, Americans were looking for more ways of moving that were less rigid and more conducive (to) what the human body was accustomed to doing,” Glenn said.

Glen said she finds most people don’t really understand what modern dance is and they think it is like what you see on TV shows such as “So You Think You Can Dance.”

“Which is very commercialized,” Glenn said. “(An Evening of Dance) is what I like to call a more authentic expression of the students as individuals, as well as collectively.”

According to Nicholas, this year’s performance has a supernatural vibe to it, which will keep audiences engaged. She choreographed the finale for the show “Progress, In Memory.”

“When you see commercial modern dance some people get the sense that it's really angsty all the time,” Nicholas said. “I wanted to end on an uplifting or inspirational note. (The routine) is not supposed to end on a negative note but celebrate the innovations of society (through) a lens of optimism.”

However, Nicholas emphasized the students’ performance is more than just the finale.

“So much thought and preparation goes into (An Evening of Dance) from all the dancers, not just the choreographers,” Nicholas said. “There are a lot of corrections to remember, thought about costumes … and it's really all student-done which is incredible.”

Glenn said she enjoys this performance because it showcases her students' growth through the dance program.

“Seeing them as freshman and they get their feet wet the first couple of years and then I love seeing them jumping in and creating their own work by the time they’re sophomores, juniors and seniors,” Glenn said. “And just to see them grow technically and creatively, taking risks with their choreography — it's really rewarding as a professor.”

Nicholas said being part of Orchesis has not only helped her grow as a dancer, but opened up future opportunities in the field.

“Leah (Glenn) has asked me to be an apprentice in her company so that’s one way I’ll be able to expand from Orchesis,” Nicholas said. “I have aspirations to do the same with companies back home if I can.

“I hope to always be dancing whatever career I go into, I’m thinking about law school, so I hope to keep doing (dance) on the side.”

Want to go?

7:30 p.m. March 21-23 and 2 p.m. March 24 at the Kimball Theatre, 428 W. Duke of Gloucester St. Tickets are $15; Free for William and Mary students. Purchase tickets and find more information at events.wm.edu.

Heymann can be reached by phone at 757-298-5828 or on Twitter at @HeymannAmelia.

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