For the first time in two years, the Grand Valley State University Dance Troupe (GVDT) hosted an in-person recital.
On Friday 19 and Saturday 20 November, GVDT presented its program “Dance among the stars” in the auditorium of the Allendale high school.
Each semester, the dance troupe uses the recital to help raise funds for a local cause.
In previous semesters, they have helped raise funds for Harbor Humane Society, the environmental justice organization The Sierra Club, and a shelter for victims of domestic violence called Resilience.
This semester, the troupe decided to raise money for North Star Reach, a camp for kids who typically can’t attend summer camp due to life-threatening illnesses. North Star Reach is Michigan’s only barrier-free and fully accessible medical camp.
Kaitlyn Holloway, secretary of GVDT and double major in Communication Sciences and Disorders and Spanish, said this case particularly affected GVDT.
Holloway said a former GVDT dancer who recently passed away was closely linked to North Star Reach as an organizer and former volunteer, and the organization was very important to her.
“Sadly, she passed away over the summer and we thought it would be a wonderful way to honor her legacy, raising awareness and collecting donations for their cause,” Holloway said.
In a typical semester, GVDT’s human resources representative researches several charities and organizations located in Western Michigan. The representative then presents their findings to the club and they vote on the organization to be represented.
Due to North Star Reach’s personal nature with the cast, this semester they collectively decided to fundraise for the organization instead of going through the traditional selection process.
This semester, the recital consisted of 18 dances that included solos, group dances of various styles and a finale that showcased all the dancers in the troupe. Each number was intimately choreographed by its choreographer and displayed a range of skills and emotions.
Holloway said she hopes those in attendance have embraced the range of emotions each number evoked.
“Some of the dances were sensitive in nature, with personal tributes to deceased loved ones or in solidarity with those who suffered domestic violence,” Holloway said. “We were hoping that the audience would applaud the upbeat hip-hop, applaud for the incredible pirouettes in advanced jazz routines, and embrace the emotions of lyrical ballads.”
Since this was the troupe’s first in-person performance since the pandemic began, most of its members had never performed with the troupe live.
“I couldn’t wait to experience my first in-person recital as a board member as we hosted a special tradition that begins every recital,” Holloway said. “From witnessing it as a freshman to now hosting it, the loop is very complete.”
Among those who experience such moments of loop, there are the seniors of GVDT who graduate in the spring.
GVDT Treasurer and Environmental Sustainability Major Sierra Barnes said she was thrilled to be back in person for her final performance in the program.
“Dancing for the last time this year means the end of an era for me,” Barnes said. “I’ve danced my whole life and it’s crazy to think it’s the end. Either way, I’m so happy to end on such a positive note with GVDT. I wouldn’t want it to be any other way.
Performances like “Dance Among the Stars”, which allow a group of people to come together and collectively experience the same emotions, are part of the world of art that the pandemic has taken from people.
Holloway said GVDT wanted to bring him back.
“Especially getting in (this time where there are safer options for coming together), opportunities to bring the community together for entertainment as well as to support and contribute to wonderful causes is a responsibility we are proud to lead,” Holloway said.
GVDT will host its next recital in spring 2022.