Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Student dance program soars

Choreograph a piece and pick music. Choose dancers and practice. Show faculty, pick costumes and practice more. Perform. As students prepare for the acclaimed “Dance Alabama!” show each semester, they follow a similar checklist. The show, which takes place both spring and fall semesters, will open Oct. 16.

“Dance Alabama!” is choreographed and produced entirely by students, and afterward, faculty choose which pieces will make the show. Auditions are open to any UA student interested in either being in the show or choreographing.

“Once you get on the stage, it doesn’t matter what age you are,” Ashley Volner, president of the “Dance Alabama!” board said. “The faculty chooses pieces based upon what they think college students want to see.”

Students from a variety of department and majors, ranging from freshmen to seniors, compose the show. Normally, students may be forced to wait until their senior year before assuming the position of choreographer, Volner said. At the University, students have the “upper hand” as the show provides an opportunity fall and spring semesters to showcase their talent. By leaving the majority of the show up to students, audience members also benefit.

“We fit a range of personalities into the show,” Volner said. “We have a lot to offer, if we could just get students to recognize this.”

Preparation for “Dance Alabama!” lasts approximately two months and requires about six hours per practice, in addition to dancers’ other classes and extracurricular activities, said Chanse Jones, vice president of the “Dance Alabama!” board. Jones, like several other dance majors in the show, is a double major.

“We really have to put in our work,” Jones said. “We all have classes, meetings and practice to fit into 24 hours.”

Past “Dance Alabama!” performers exemplify the challenge of coordinating busy class schedules and working in the professional dance realm, Jones said. Many dancers have signed with agencies and travel to perform in television shows and music videos in addition to working on their “Dance Alabama!” pieces.

“We continue pushing ourselves because there is nothing more comforting and beautiful than doing what we love with people who love the same thing,” Volner said.

The effort of the students does not go unnoticed. Last year, the department sold around 3,800 tickets for the fall and spring shows, the majority purchased by students, said Collins Goss, the marketing manager for the Department of Theatre and Dance. He hopes to sell all 622 seats in Morgan Auditorium each night in future years.

Cornelius Carter, professor and director of the dance program at the Universtiy, said his favorite aspect of the show is seeing the “fresh and new voices that are pushed to find themselves.” Carter has been at the University for more than 20 years and said he expects “fully committed dancers to exemplify excellence” on the stage.

Because tickets are sold to the public, students are forced to perform at a professional level, Associate Professor Rita Snyder said.

“The stage is like a laboratory for them,” she said. “They learn the technical and performance aspects of the business while also learning to communicate and compromise.”

Like any form of research at the University, professors guide students through the process. In preparation, faculty members critique the music, performance and choreography until each piece is ready. Ultimately, only the best pieces will make the show.

“Dance Alabama!” Fall 2012 runs Oct. 16 through Oct. 19 in Morgan Auditorium. Tickets can be purchased online or through the Department of Theatre and Dance.


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