By Carly Totten
Grace, dedication and charity are all words that have been used to describe this year’s show, Rider Dances for All Ages, by the Rider Dance Ensemble.
The Rider Dance Ensemble is the core group of dance majors at Rider University, and, as in years past, they will be joined by alumni and professional dancers from the American Repertory Ballet and Princeton Ballet School.
“I’m glad that Rider is giving me the opportunity to continue my love for dance as a grad student,” said Cherilyn Barbone, a Rider admissions counselor and alumna.
This year, the Rider Dance Ensemble chose to focus on children by inviting those involved in two local charity programs to join them on stage as they perform ballet, modern and lyrical dances.
“It’s basically going to be a true focus on the kids,” said junior Meredith McCarthy.
All of the proceeds from Rider Dances for All Ages will go toward helping the two charities — American Repertory Ballet’s Dance Power and National Dance Institute’s TEDI Project — further develop their scholarship funds. Combined, the two charities have allowed over 2 million children to experience dance.
Seniors Jami Holly and Jordan Van De Sande are interning with each of the programs, respectively, and choreographing dances based on their experiences, which also helped to inspire the theme, said McCarthy.
Not only will Rider Dances for All Ages serve to aid Dance Power and TEDI, but through senior choreographer Caitlyn Berardi, proceeds from wristband sales will be donated to research pulmonary fibrosis, a disease that affects breathing by causing the lungs to harden. The dance that Berardi choreographed is inspired by breathing.
“The movements in the actual piece are inspired by pulmonary fibrosis, so breathing is a main aspect of my piece,” Berardi said. “Pulmonary fibrosis essentially takes the patient’s breath away, which is why the music selections, the costumes and the movements are all related to breathing.”
In addition to the students performing onstage, others are working behind the scenes through student involvement with the course DAN 210, Rider Dances: Repertory and Production.
“The course is designed to give students the full experience of producing a show; each student in the class gets a duty or a responsibility,” McCarthy said. “Everything is assigned to a person, and [he or she is] responsible for that job before the show goes on.”
Rider Dances for All Ages serves not only to display the abilities of students but also to display the talents of the surrounding community.
“I think that it is a really good showcase of what our abilities are here,” said McCarthy. “I think that people should come just to see what talent Rider students and students from around the community have, because you can be 5 years old, 10 years old, 70 years old and still dance.”