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Dance majors perform in New York

Dancers in New York

Twice a year choreographers submit work to be presented at the New York Jazz Choreography Project. Radford University’s Assistant Professor of Dance Amy VanKirk was among 14 selected for this honor. With this, she took six dance majors to perform her work on the Salvatore Capezio Theater stage.

RU students who participated April 12 and 13 at the dance concert were Rachel Gattoni, Sarah Hayes, Amy Livesay, Haley Race, Arianne Thompson and Jessica Wheeler.

“Representing the Radford Dance Department at the New York Jazz Choreography Project was an excellent opportunity to bring my work to a new stage while providing professional development for Radford dance majors,” said VanKirk about the experience.

Jazz Choreography Enterprises, Inc. is the nonprofit corporation that sponsors the project. Its mission is to encourage the creation of jazz dance in concert form. This provided the dance majors with a glimpse of one of the largest centers of professional dance and the opportunity to perform alongside dance professionals on a New York City stage.VanKirk believes this gives students valuable insight into their possible future endeavors.

She discussed the positive outcomes; “Their hard work after rehearsing for the past four months came to fruition with two strong performances in the concert along with positive feedback from New York dance professionals.”

But it is the supportive environment of the RU College of Visual and Performing Arts and the Department of Dance that she feels encourages the presentation of work on a national level. It allows faculty and students to highlight RU in an important way and to provide a unique educational environment beyond the campus walls.

According to senior Sarah Hayes, “The New York trip was an amazing opportunity. We were given great, positive feedback after performing Amy Vankirk's piece and truly represented Radford University well. It was an honor to be a part of the showcase, and it was an experience.”

Sophmore Amy Livesay was new to the city and reflected, “My first weekend in New York will always be viewed as an amazing and inspiring experience sharing the stage with friends and doing what we all love the most, dancing! Being the only student piece in the performance was a little scary, we were like little fish in a big pond, but I think that speaks volumes about Amy VanKirk's choreography!”

She also credited the department chair Margaret Devaney for helping make the trip possible.

Senior Jessica Wheeler described the weekend as surreal and was grateful for to be able to perform with professional working dancers at the NY Jazz Choreography Project.

Seeing all the other dance companies involved and being able to create strong bonds with her peers were key components for sophomore Haley Race.

Freshman Rachel Gattoni summed it all up, “From the long but hysterical car rides to group dinners to performing on a New York stage, every moment was something I will always remember.”

Like her five peers, she too expressed her appreciation for the opportunity and being able to perform in VanKirk’s piece.

Gattoni continued, “Furthermore, the department's generosity in funding our trip was appreciated more than I can express. I feel so much closer to our group of girls, and as a whole, I am incredibly excited to have danced in Manhattan for the first time. I think our piece went really well, and all of our hard work paid off.”

Vankirk is a recent full-time faculty hire for the Department of Dance. She began at RU in August 2013 as temporary faculty and is now the newest tenure-track dance professor.

Visit http://www.peridance.com/salvatore-performances.cfm for more information about the New York Jazz Choreography Project. To learn more about the RU Department of Dance, visit www.radford.edu/dance.

Apr 21, 2014

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