By Megan O’Connell
Ballet, modern dance, hip-hop, tap and contemporary classical are all genres that will be part of the diverse dance performance, Rider Dances in the 21st Century. The program is made up of 10 different dances with almost 40 dancers performing. It will feature works by choreographers Laney Engelhard, Mary Barton, Janell Byrne, Rider alumna Jennifer Gladney and Kim Chandler Vaccaro. Each dance highlights the individuality of contemporary classical dance in the 21st century.
Artistic director Vaccaro says that the program will reflect the many changes that dance has undergone in the 21st century. Vaccaro’s own choreography incorporates technology with dance.
“Due to nutrition and training techniques, dancers are still making art after many decades of performing,” she said. “Technology has enabled numerous creative collaborations and inventions, and competitions have brought dance, especially hip-hop, back into popularity.”
The event has long been in the making. Most of the dancers had to rehearse 30 to 50 hours just for one dance.
“It has been a very dynamic process with changes continuously along the way,” Vaccaro said.
She explained that each form of dance is a direct reflection of this century. The dances will include music from a variety of genres such as classical, jazz and rap. The program has also given many students the opportunity to show their creativity. Elizabeth Zelesny, a senior double major in dance and journalism, had to hold an audition for the piece she choreographed because it is a strenuous dance.
“This is a great experience for me,” she said. “I really broke out of my shell in terms of my choreographing process.”
Senior Michael Ferrara, a fine arts music major, will be performing original music in the show. One of Ferrara’s songs will be used in one of Vaccaro’s dances.
“I love playing music, and I am performing in a main-stage production that is spotlighting my original music,” Ferrara said.
He will also be selling CDs for $5 at the program. The CD contains eight tracks of original music. Its profits will be donated to Come Unity, an arts organization dedicated to helping people obtain clean water.
“People can expect to see one of the most unique dance shows ever performed here at Rider,” Ferrara said. “The combination of dance and music and art will be a cultural explosion.”
Special guest artists in the program are all faculty or members of American Repertory Ballet’s Princeton Ballet School. The dancers of the show all took studio classes at the school and the faculty is directly involved in their training.
“This is a really exciting show,” Zelesny said. “All of the pieces are unique, which makes a great, well-rounded show. Rider Dances in the 21st Century is the perfect way to show off all of the talented dancers in the program.”
Performances are Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. in the Yvonne Theater. General admission is $10; $5 for students and faculty. Tickets will be available at the door.