By Samantha Brandbergh
The Rider Dance Ensemble (RDE) is preparing to break the mold with the fall showcase “Breaking Boundaries.”
Taking place on Nov. 10 and 11 in the Bart Luedeke Center Theater, the performance will feature 26 dances of various styles including contemporary, modern, lyrical, jazz and tap.
According to junior marketing major and RDE President Victoria Miller, the showcase resonates with the group’s presence on campus.
“Our show last year was our 10th anniversary, so we wanted to kind of expand on that,” she said. “We felt like, especially because there’s so many dance groups on campus, we wanted to break through the norm of them, so that’s how [the name] came about. It’s about breaking personal boundaries.”
This year’s showcase features new dancers of various skill levels, as over 90 students auditioned earlier this semester, Miller said.
“We have a very large amount of the freshman class [in RDE this year],” she continued. “It’s honestly been great, we have so many freshmen and people who have transferred, or have never done RDE before. They’re all awesome dancers and it’s exciting having so many new people to work with.”
With the increase in members, some group pieces will include nine dancers as opposed to six, the general number in past productions.
Freshman psychology major Sabrina LaRagione is among the new RDE members this year, but she is no stranger to the stage.
LaRagione has been dancing since she was 2 years old, performing in competitions and dancing with iKADA Dance Company and Broadway Dance Center in New York, as well as Front and Center Dance Studio in Hamilton.
She decided to audition for RDE because of their “relaxed” approach.
“We just dance to dance,” she said. “I’m used to all the stress because I’m a competition dancer and I’m used to the stress of competing, but this is nice because it’s just performing for the joy of performing.”
LaRagione is making her RDE debut in three dances, “Step Out For a While,” an “empowering” piece about portraying one’s true self, “Painted Greys,” a contemporary dance that portrays the struggles of escaping a toxic relationship and “Desperado,” a jazz piece that represents similar dangerous scenarios.
According to Miller, “Breaking Boundaries” contains many dances with personal meanings to their respective choreographers, including junior elementary education major Maggie Oswald’s dance to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” which will honor her grandmother.
“I think [the audience] will have an emotional connection to at least one piece in the show,” she said. “We have a nice variety of music and feelings that everyone is going for.”
For LaRagione, rehearsing for this showcase has proven to be a busy, but fun, experience.
“I’m just excited to get back on stage and dance because it’s been a little bit since I’ve been on a stage and performed in front of people,” she said.
While admission is free, there is a suggested donation to the Jar of Hope Foundation, which aims to find a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
“One of our members worked for the man who started Jar of Hope for his son, who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy,” junior healthcare management major and RDE Vice President Lauren Mee said. “When he was diagnosed, the doctors told him to take his son home, because all he could do at that point was love him. Refusing to accept this, his father founded Jar of Hope to fund research for this condition.”
According to Mee and LaRagione, “Breaking Boundaries” will bring emotion and a “surprising amount of professionalism.”
“It’s so cool how great the choreography is for just students,” LaRagione said. “There’s no teacher, there’s no professional choreographers, but the choreography is so good. I think [audiences] are going to be impressed with that.”
Printed in the 11/08/17 edition.