While the Spring Dance Concert is taking place this week, preparations for it started months ago. Inspiring 256 student dancers to share their gifts and talents with audiences for a two-hour concert on four consecutive days takes dedication, commitment, and leadership.
Dance Artistic Director Brooks Owens together with Dance Educators Alina Vance and Erica Seninsky lead the effort. Right there alongside them, however, are three senior dance leaders.
For four-year dance student Emily Gajda ’19 being a program leader, “means setting an example and helping others feel comfortable dancing and performing.”
It has long been established that the arts foster important leadership skills. They range from creativity and discipline to collaboration and risk-taking. And while Webster defines a leader as “a person who rules, guides, or inspires others,” some say artistic leaders inspire by influencing feelings and changing perceptions.
So, what does it mean to be a leader in the dance program? Part of the senior leadership experience explained Owens, includes choreographing at least one original dance piece for either the fall and/or spring dance concert, praying before each rehearsal and show, and teaching the final dance in the concert to all 13 sections of dance students. In addition to teaching the finale student leaders also decide its theme, “which is a huge undertaking,” Owens said, adding that “their input is invaluable.”
Three student dance leaders talk about their experiences this year and offer their definition of leadership. The three are Emily Gajda’19, Molly Schimelfenig ’19, and Kate Wirth ’19.
“To be a leader in this program means creating an environment where all the girls feel welcomed and loved and are excited to dance,” Kate said, adding that she learned that leadership “is about more than one person.” For the spring concert Kate, who has been in the dance program for three years, choreographed one piece, “Into the Sun.”
“Supporting others,” is how Molly described being a leader in the dance program she has been part of for the last four years. Sharing her gifts and talents with the Gibbons community, “is a gift,” added Molly who choreographed two dances for the concert – “Summer Games,” and “Mambo No. 5.”
For four-year dance student Emily being a program leader, “means setting an example and helping others feel comfortable dancing and performing.” What has she learned? “I’ve learned that a passionate leader makes for a passionate team,” noted Emily who choreographed “The Cave” for the spring dance concert.
To be sure, the concert, which opened on April 10, reflects students’ leadership skills in action. Additional performances, which take place in the Mainstage Theater, are today, April 11, at 4 PM, as well as Friday, April 12, and Saturday, April 13, both at 7:30 PM. Visit Gibbons Dance for more information.