Plattsburgh State’s Dance Corps members of spring 2018 are preparing for their final recital, a compilation of performances that highlights the different strengths of each dancer and which allows friends, family and general audience members to witness the hours and sweat this team has put into their craft.
“Dance has always been an outlet for me,” said Kelly Brennan, a junior childhood and special education major with a concentration in math. “Whenever anything is wrong I can just come into practice and forget everything.”
Brennan is president of Dance Corps this year. She is classically trained as a ballerina and has additionally been practicing contemporary, lyrical and tap styles for 18 years.
“The group we have right now is really strong,” Brennan said about the 18 members.
Kendyll Gaster is a sophomore nursing major and has been dancing with the company for a year and a half.
“Dance is a way to express what I can’t put into words,” Gaster said. “It’s a calming presence for me. It’s something I can go to as a stress reliever.”
PSUC freshman Spanish major Jeraya Kelly is completing her second semester with Dance Corps.
“I’m strongest in hip-hop,” Kelly said. She has been dancing for close to six non-consecutive years.
“I’m super clumsy in my daily life,” Kelly said. “Whenever I’m dancing, I’m not someone clumsy or awkward. I am coordinated and almost graceful.”
PSUC junior social work major Martin Torres has been a member of Dance Corps for three years. He has been dancing since he was 10 years old and feels strongest in hip-hop.
“Dance is an escape really from all the stress of college,” Torres said. “Even when I was younger, it was something fun to do that I always enjoyed doing. I feel like I’m in my own world where there’s nothing really bothering me.”
Dance Corps competed in Black Dance Repertoire in Binghamton in October 2017. For some members, it was their favorite experience with the team.
“It was really nice to see other dance teams and what styles they perform,” said Autumn Knigh, freshman computer science major. “The energy was so positive and everyone was just supporting each other.”
Knight has been dancing for 10 years, but this is her first year with Dance Corps. She excels in hip-hop.
“I’ve danced modern and ballet too, but ballet wasn’t my style. I like modern more,” Knight said. “I’m a shy person and dance helps me express myself without speaking or using words.”
The group performs in on-campus shows, like their October performance with PSUC’s club Al-Arabiyya, which promotes the awareness of Arabic language, culture, and customs. The company annually participates and performs in Relay for Life and holds fundraisers at local businesses.
“We’ve done fundraisers at Chipotle, Sweet Frog, Five Guys and have even done car washes,” Gaster said. “I like when we do fundraisers because it’s a good bonding experience with the team.”
Members described devoting six to 12 hours a week, sometimes more, to practicing choreography and fulfilling the duties expected of them as a collegiate dance company. The students budget their time between school work, other extracurricular activities, and of course, dance.
“I have a whole schedule planned out for myself,” Gaster said. “I even schedule in naps because I wouldn’t get any sleep otherwise.”
This year’s Dance Corps recital is April 13 and 14 in Giltz Auditorium at 7 p.m. The final recital is an exciting event to plan and look forward to according to the members of the company.
“It’s always nice when you’ve been working on something for a long time and then get to show it to people and see how they react,” Kelly said.
All members of Dance Corps have the opportunity to choreograph a routine to a song of their choice. This routine is auditioned in front of a panel of dancers,
“We auditioned choreography at the end of the fall semester because we wanted to get started right away,” Brennan said.
According to Brennan, every routine that was auditioned for the performance will be showcased there.
“The show is basically a huge performance of all the dances we’ve worked on and it shows the discipline and practice we’ve put in,” fitness and wellness leadership major Melissa Lopez said.
At Dance Corps’ upcoming recital, Lopez will have a routine she created and also taught to members of the team, showcased for the first time.
“Dancing for me is a form of expression,” Lopez said. “It helps me express my emotions.” This is Lopez’s third year with Dance Corps.
Dance Corps’ final performance will open with a Disney villain versus heroes scene, complete with theatrical fighting and yelling intertwined with the choreography.
Company members are seen laughing and jumping on each other’s backs in the downtime at practice between pirouettes and ball changes. Communication amongst the team is affectionate and respectful.
Torres agreed that these people, who scream his name at top volume whenever he enters practice, have become like his family.
Dance Corps offers students the opportunity to learn about dance and the chance to express and create, while also giving their audience something to enjoy.
“This is what we live for,” Brennan said.
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