ARDT showcases UA’s Dance Major students

Savannah Ichikawa, Staff Reporter

Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre is a display of a collection of pieces where dance majors at the University can showcase their talent and prepare for the professional field. ARDT’s 31st season occurred between Oct. 19-21 in the English Building Auditorium. 

The UA Dance and Theatre Department website describes ARDT as transformative and lively, taking audience members on a visual journey with multiple performances choreographed by nationally acclaimed dance faculty. 

“One of the important elements of Alabama Repertory Dance Theater is that we want to provide a professional training ground for dancers that came here that wanted to become professionals,” said Rita Snyder, this year’s artistic director of ARDT. 

Snyder is a professor of dance in the department. She said interacting with the students and watching their growth is her favorite part of working for ARDT.  

“I always love seeing the students perform and I love seeing how much they improve, it really is amazing to me,” Snyder said.  

Snyder said professional artists are brought in to choreograph the pieces in the show, and this allows dancers to get the most out of their experience and prepares them for a career in the professional dance world. 

“We want to provide a pathway to professional dance,” Snyder said. “We try to present a variety of works at the concert so students can have that varied experience.” 

Snyder said that many UA dance and theatre alumni continue their careers after college as professional dancers and performers. She said they have had students perform on Broadway, cruise lines, and touring shows, and they join different types of modern, jazz, and ballet companies. 

Snyder was one of the choreographers for the first piece of the show titled, “Vision Scene from Sleeping Beauty Act II.” This dance was a classic ballet piece featuring dancers on pointe. Various lighting effects and a smoke machine elevated the piece to give it an airy and dream-like feel.  

The second number of the concert, “To Know Wisdom, Madness, and Folly,” was choreographed by Anna Foshee. Foshee graduated with a degree in dance from The University of Alabama, and is the artistic director for Sanspointe Dance Company in Birmingham and a Dance Fellow with the Alabama State Council On The Arts  . 

The number Foshee choreographed was a contemporary piece. The dancers wore yellow pants and blue tops that were made more vibrant from the lighting effects on stage, and their movement was fast paced and upbeat.   

The third number, “Trek. Trust. Traverse.” was choreographed by Sarah M. Barry along with several other dancers. Barry is a professor of dance for the University and serves as associate chair of the University’s dance program. 

Her piece had a more serious tone and the dancers on stage conveyed an intense energy. The movement was intricate, and the pictures created by the choreography made the piece exciting to watch. 

Even the founder of ARDT, Cornelius Carter, came back to choreograph a modern piece for this semester’s show. He is a UA professor emeritus and was awarded the National Outstanding Doctoral and Research Universities Professor of the Year in 2021 by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.  

Another number that stood out during the show was the last piece, titled “Brink,” choreographed by Janice Rosario, a nationally recognized contemporary dance choreographer, educator and activist. The dance was a strong and dynamic modern contemporary piece that showcased the dancers’ athleticism and artistry and captivated the audience. 

Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre’s concert this semester showcased the hard work and multitude of talent the University’s dance students possess and gave them the opportunity to dance on a more professional level.  

Snyder said she was excited to watch everything that the dancers and production team had prepared to come to life and is grateful to be back in the theater with a live audience.  

“It’s a big commitment and it’s very demanding but there is a lot of enjoyment and community in the process,” Snyder said. “It’s a lot of work but the rewards are worth it.” 

To find out more about the University’s Theatre and Dance Department, click here. Upcoming shows for this semester include the “Dance Alabama!” fall concert in the Dance Theater starting on Nov. 9 and “Small Mouth Sounds,” a performance in Allen Bales Theatre starting on Nov. 7.