Behind the attractive costumes, intriguing music, and enchanting moves of each piece that comprised the fall dance concert is the story of students growing their creative talents and sharing them with the Gibbons community. There is also the story of dedication, commitment, and hard work to bring the more than 250 student-dancers on stage to create a 90-minute show highlighting dance forms from contemporary to jazz and tap.
No easy task, for sure. But Dance Director Brooks Owens together with Dance Educators Alina Vance and Erica Seninsky made it look effortless in the four performances that recently took place in the Mainstage Theater, which was packed with Gibbons dance aficionados.
But what really goes into making a show? For the answer we asked Owens, who has headed the Gibbons Dance Program for the last 13 years. She has been joined in recent years by Vance and Seninsky. The three share the tasks of teaching classes and coordinating the show.
Preparation for the fall concert began before the start of the 2018-2019 school year in August, which is when the three dance educators came up with the concert’s theme. They together with some students choreographed the over 20 dances, which are taught in the various dance classes throughout the first two semesters. Students and educators don’t stop working until the concert is over, notes Owens.
There is also the week leading up to the show when the dancers are in rehearsal many afternoons. “While there is a tremendous amount of work that goes into creating a show, the result is more than worth the time because it spotlights our talented students," she explains.
In between, there is what Owens describes as a seemingly endless list of items to complete before the first show. They include: picking the costumes and music, organizing the senior video, as well as working with the tech theater department on lighting and sound. Educators also work with students who are creating their own dance pieces.
Through all that time spent together in classes and rehearsals, explains Owens, the dancers become a family and their bond on stage is like no other. To celebrate that bond, especially for the seniors whose last show will be in the spring, Owens started a tradition a few years back that provides them with a video keepsake of their dance years at Gibbons. The dancers love it - and so do the parents.
Each of the dances in the concert tell a story, Owens notes, adding that the students have their story captured on video to share with others - again and again.