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Dance Program has Something for Everyone

Students, family and community members of all ages packed into the old Seabury gymnasium Nov. 2 for the annual Berea Dances! recital. This exciting event featured performances by eight student dance groups, three dance classes and solo acts by international students, with over 100 participants.

Performances from Berea Dances!

The evening got off to a spectacular start with “Tuck It” by the gymnastics club, which boasts 40 men and women. They started off in a series of choreographed movements and then quickly set up safety devices for several rounds of flips, cartwheels and high-flying acrobatics. The crowd was audibly awed over the agility of the participants and applauded and shouted with enthusiasm.

The Hispanic Student Association next took the floor with “The Peter Sloth Latin Jive.” This lively number was clearly enjoyed by both dancers and spectators as the group hammed it up as they shuffled their feet to the salsa beat.

Inessa Federova, then performed a high-energy solo dance “Her Runaway” to “Man Eater.” Other solo artists were Bahar Nuriyeva who danced the graceful “Uzbek Dance” and Nashwa Cahill finished off the event with a bang with her colorful costume and precise movements to “Always with You.”

The Modern Dance Troupe, with its ballet-like jumps and emotionally-charged choreography performed twice, doing “Studio Ritual” and “Mid-Morning.” Stephanie Woodie is their advisor. She choreographed the first selection and student Adrian Safar took charge of the second. Also performing in this genre was the 10-member Modern Dance II class, which is taught by Professor Stephanie Woodie, who also choreographed “Lifts You Up.”

In a change of pace, the ladies of the African Student Association Dance Team, dressed in colorful costumes, showed the audience the rhythmic movements of “Afro/Caribbean.” This was followed by the Swing Club doing moves in partner dances from America’s past in “Jitterbug Stroll & Jam Circle.”

The Social and Folk Dance class slowed down the pace with the ever-changing graceful movements of “Duke of Kent’s Waltz,” an English country social dance from 1801. Accompanying the group were musicians Al White, Atossa Kramer, Wil Haizlett and Hans Burkholder.

These musicians again filled the gym with live music for the three-part performance by the Berea College Country Dancers. This group, according to Susan Spalding, who co-leads the group with Jenna Holmes, first performed in 1935. They focus on “communal, interactive dancing and the group becomes like a family very quickly. The dances connect with the traditions of the Appalachian region and other countries.”

Several women in the group danced with long poles, followed by an all-male ensemble who used sticks to add percussion to the music by hitting them together in the “Welsh Stave Dance.” The last group, made up of men and women, moved to the toe-tappin’ “Levi Jackson Rag.”

FYAH (Fine, Young and Hypnotic), a popular and high-energy dance team with 19 members, wowed the crowd with “Stop! Drop! and Roll With It,” which was choreographed by four team members and featured songs by Ciara, Twista and Shariffa.

The Berea Middle Eastern Dance Club was the last group and received a lot of admiration from the onlookers with their colorful costumes, dangling medallions and constantly moving hips. The night ended with joyful chatter as members of the audience joined the performers in a huge group dance.
Spalding is proud of the large variety of dance experiences offered at Berea College. “It is unusual for any college, especially a small college, to have everything from Hispanic dance to country dance and from African dance to gymnastics. The dedication and hard work of the dancers is amazing! Each group has its own performances and other events, and the Berea Dances performance is a special opportunity for all of us to come together.”

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