“When most schools are cutting the arts, they are flourishing here at Gibbons,” said Dance Director Brooks Owens. “I am supported in my ability to continue to grow the dance program.”
Each year the Gibbons Dance Department holds two dance concerts, one in the fall, the other in the spring. And each year the number of student-dancers grows. To accommodate the 247 performers in this fall's concert, the department is dividing the number of dancers into two casts, with each cast performing in two of the four shows.
Though producing two versions of the concert, each with different casts, has involved more organization and the logistics have been tough, it is a good problem to have, said Dance Director Brooks Owens, who has headed the program for the last 12 years. She is now joined by two other dance educators – Alina Ramirez and Erica Seninsky.
"No matter which show is taking place, the audience enjoys the full range of what Gibbons Dance offers," Owens said, adding that the shows highlight the gifts and talents each group shares with the school community.
The Green Cast will perform, today at 4 p.m. and on Friday, December 1 at 7:30 p.m. , and the Gold Cast will perform tonight at 7:30 p.m. and on Saturday, December 2 at 7:30 p.m.
That Gibbons Fine Arts Department, which includes dance as well as music, theater, and visual arts, is growing bucks the national trend of a reduction in schools' arts programs. "When most schools are cutting the arts, they are flourishing here," Owens said. "I am supported in my ability to continue to grow the dance program." Along with offering more classes, the program also provides leadership opportunities through its Big Sister/Little Sister initiative, which enables seasoned dancers to mentor those beginning their dance training. "It is about students supporting and loving one another," she added.
For Katrina Jagadeesan '18 the initiative "creates a closer bond" between dancers. "My big sister really took care of me, she did her best to make me feel comfortable and we became friends," she said. "I hope to have the same impact on my little sister."
Owens said the hope is for Gibbons dancers to mentor young students in the Catholic middle schools.
With the first performance of the fall dance concert taking place today, the dancers are excited. "I am most excited to see people's reactions to the different dances in each show," Katrina said, adding that each show is different so each person's experience also will be different.
*All performances take place in the school's Mainstage Theater. Tickets are $5 and sold in advance. For more information, please visit cghsnc.org/dance