The Silhouetted Dancers

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Pacific’s Dance Ensemble heads to Salt Lake City

Eight members of the Pacific University dance ensemble are taking their show on the road to the American College Dance Association conference. The conference is a weekend long meeting in early March that was made with the mission to encourage brilliance in performed and choreographed dance routines. The event is held at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah. 

   Preparing for the competition began in the spring and spanned to the winter. As Junior Aurora Greenfield explains, after the process of applying for the conference and being accepted, attending the ACDA conference is never a given. “They usually take people that have registered early, because it has a maximum number of people. It is based around who can fund the costs of the tickets and the stay. Usually our department gets a grant every year to be able to go and take a select few dancers out of the ensemble. Going isn’t certain every year because it takes getting accepted for a grant.” She added that, “It takes seniority. I know that Pacific has been going to ACDA since before I even started going.” 

   At the conference, dancers will have their choreographed dances adjudicated, have opportunities to meet choreographers, attend classes with master teachers in all different types of dances, and watch other ensembles perform. There is also an informal show to give dancers an opportunity to showcase their works. 

   Grace Hankins, a senior studying film and dance, has choreographed over 50 pieces and 15 within the year. Hankins choreographed a piece which was showcased in the Autumn Choreographers Concert in the fall. A group of three performed to the music, “Song of Achilles” by Doltri, which is composed of a high energy drum beat with moody guitar and ambient tones. At the conference, the dancers will be backlit from behind a sheet, casting silhouettes and following the beat with focused and expressive movements, creatively using the limited group size in the dance to their advantage. 

   “I am proud of my dancers. It will be exciting to get it in front of a new audience and get feedback from well known choreographers,” Hankins remarked. Additionally, Hankins will be performing a tap solo at the closing night gala. 

   A select number of students are choreographing the second routine with an advisor, Jennifer Camp, who is the Associate Professor and Director of Dance at Pacific. Katelyn Ker, an ensemble member attending, expressed that collectively, they have been choreographing the piece since winter term. She admits that she hasn’t competed in years and ACDA is intense compared to on campus performances. “When I’m performing here the audience is typically made up of family and friends, but at the conference there will be hundreds of other dancers, teachers, and innovators in the industry,” Ker expressed. 

   After all the schools have performed, as a winning prize, the best routine by an ensemble receives an award and a shout-out from ACDA. The main goal of the conference is not based around competition, but consists more of supporting dancers’ growth and challenging the limits of expression.    As Katelyn emphasized, attending the conference is not about winning.“Of course I’m most excited to be able to perform and watch other pieces of work. I believe this will be a great opportunity to see others’ creative decisions and to be reinspired as a dancer and choreographer.”


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