Variety of majors perform in annual WinterDance


The poetic movement of classical ballet mixed with the upbeat, high-energetic motions of tap dance and the intense, sharp movements of African dance, to bring the audience in Nichols Theatre a dose of the K-State dance program on Thursday night.

The theatre and dance department brought a little something for everyone Thursday as they presented this WinterDance 2010. The program featured a variety of dance genres including classical and contemporary ballet, modern, hip-hop and interpretive dance, as well as a traditional African piece and a tap ensemble.

The annual WinterDance program has been performed at K-State for decades, and Julie Pentz, director of the dance program, said the show features dancers from all study concentrations around campus. She said opening up the dance program to everyone is a great way for students to follow any career path while still being able to do what they enjoy.

“We have a lot of students that love, love, love dance, but they also love engineering. So, it’s nice in a liberal arts institution to be able to offer that,” she said. “We’re dealing with dancers from a variety of majors, but if they consistently perform for us and take dance classes, perhaps they’ll graduate and get a part time job teaching dance. Or, maybe they love to dance but they just don’t want to make it their career and there’s something about the arts that just fulfill.”

Neil Dunn, instructor in the department of communication studies, theatre and dance, agreed and said there is a definite benefit from extra-cirricular activities.

“I think it’s good, it gives them a chance to do something they love that is not necessarily involved with their area of study. I did that in college, I think everyone should do that in college,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of students that once they get involved in extra-curricular activities, they say they have a much more enjoyable time in college. It rounds it off, and the experience is here, why not take it cause when you get out of college you may not be able to dance or sing or do whatever else it is you do.”

And for the students involved in the program, the classes, while daunting at times, are great preparation for the future.

“It’s really challenging, and I find it to be something that’s really making me humble for when I do get out there in the real world because you’re not going to have breaks, and they’re not giving you any breaks here,” said Tyrone Williams, junior in dance, business management and social economics.

One piece in particular that Williams was featured in was a modern, contemporary piece that involved poetry. Williams said he wrote his lyrics in the piece based on several things that had happened to him over the semester.

“It’s basically a free form and we were trying to interpret what people go through on a day-to-day type basis,” he said. “We were trying to interpret what people feel internally but they’re either afraid or they just don’t voice out openly to the public.”

The free-form piece was one of several that required some form of interpretation throughout the night, and Pentz said that is one of the aspects she loves about dance.

“That’s the cool thing about dance, there are some pieces you know exactly what it’s about, and some you have no clue, and some you can make up your own meaning,” she said.

Another piece adding culture to the program was a performance of Gota, a traditional West African dance. The performance included live music played by Dunn, and showcased the traditional war dance, which is now representative of more celebratory events.

“Intense is the first word. Some people think it’s a bit humorous but it’s sharp, it’s intense. It’s very packed with energy, it’s a very high-energy dance,” Dunn said.

Dunn and Pentz said they have traveled to Ghana several times in the past few years, and along with the inclusion of the cultural dance into the WinterDance program, it also inspired the two to start up an African dance ensemble.

“I love bringing the ethnic stuff here because I don’t think otherwise people would have those opportunities here,” Dunn said. “It’s just an addition to the community that otherwise wouldn’t be here.”

There will be several performances of WinterDance this weekend. The event is scheduled for today and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and there will also be a matinee performance at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. All performances will be in Nichols Theatre.