Arts & Culture / Featured / Mosaic / May 28, 2014

Terpsichore differs from years prior but show goes on

While Terp dancers anticipate performing in their last show of the year Thursday, May 29, they reflect on a program that has been totally transformed in the last four years. The Knox dance department is expanding, but the Terpsichore Dance Collective continues to be downsized in size and budget.

At one time the group’s mission involved accepting all those who wanted to dance. Now, due to capacity limits and a devotion to artistic integrity, making cuts is a necessity.

“When I first came in [cutting people] wasn’t a thing … People had the idea they could do Terp eventually, but with the cutback, they’re not necessarily guaranteed a spot,” senior Portia Calhoun said.

Calhoun was annoyed with the cuts, but now that she’s had the opportunity to choreograph her own piece, entitled “A Dance With the Doctor,”  she’s made sure to include experienced as well as inexperienced dancers.

Sophomore dancers/choreographers Angela McNeal and Lency Short agree, but including all dancers has been impossible.

“It’s not that they haven’t tried. There’s the horror story about the year where there was no capacity. It’s been proven not to be successful,” McNeal said.

However, recent growth of the dance department has given those cut from Terp other areas to excel in.

“I think it’s good that more and more people are starting their own dance groups. It gives a lot of people their own niche,” senior Haley Schutt said.

Both Short and McNeal are a part of the Knox Dance Squad, and Short serves as the vice president for the up-and-coming dance group De La Crew.

“I’d been dancing for a long time, but never really knew what was available to me here at Knox until I joined Terp,” Short said.

Alongside Knox’s expanding dance scene, Terp is reaching into new mediums outside of Harbach.

“Terp is getting to be more than just the shows we have every year,” McNeal said.

On May 9, Terp executed a traveling performance for the second time this year, showcasing dance improv at various areas around campus. Terp also sponsors dance classes based on a wide variety of styles, including hip hop, balinese and ballet, based on availability of instructors.

“Terp is like a stepping stone for the dance program … it provides a comfortable environment for people who haven’t danced before to become more interested in dance,” Short said.

However, changes in the dance department are not all beneficial, especially for Terp.

“Unfortunately Terp will take a hit,” McNeal said.

Since Terp performances have been moved from the Auxiliary Gym to Harbach Theater, space has been severely limited.

In addition, just one night in Harbach Theater can cost the group up to $600, not to mention renting the space for tech nights and dress rehearsals.

McNeal summarized the feelings of many of the dancers in Terp. “We just hope [the changes] will benefit both people that enjoy Terp and people who are interested in dance. I don’t see Terp ending, just the type of things we do might be minimized. We just hope that once [the dance department] expands, it includes Terp, rather than excludes it.”

Despite the many changes happening within Terp, dancers and choreographers are optimistic about Thursday’s show.

The show, starting at 7:00 p.m., features 10 very different pieces, ranging from Contemporary to Jazz to Afro-Caribbean along with a finale that highlights each choreographer and his or her work.

Celina Dietzel

Tags:  ballet dance department hip hop terp terpsichore terpsichore dance collective the lion king

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