Photo by Edwin Kodero.

ELSAH - Advertised as “a joyous celebration of humanity,” this year’s annual Dance Production at Principia College promises to be a lot of fun and a little different than recent years.

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The Dance Production invites community members to enjoy several dance performances on April 11–13, 2024. Director Erin Lane said the show will highlight students’ dancing and choreography, and she is excited to share their work with people at Principia College and beyond.

“We have dances that explore themes of friendship and humanity and sisterhood and loss and rebellion and community. This year’s show is just incredibly fun and full of celebration, which is slightly different than the last couple of years,” Lane said. “Even after coming out of the pandemic and the continued threat of climate change and there’s war and political polarization and all these things happening in the world — for the students to sense that we need a little more hope here and continue to utilize their art form as a vehicle for bringing hope to an audience is great.”

Many genres of dance will be represented at the production, from Southeast African dance to musical theater numbers. Students choreographed most of the dances, and Lane choreographed the song “Light of the World” from the musical “Godspell.” She also collaborated with St. Louis dance artist Thomas Proctor to choreograph the show’s finale. Joel and Lizzy Aguilera from the Houston-based Mezclada Dance Company worked with students to stage a contemporary Latin fusion dance.

Principia College’s dance program is open to students across campus. While many of the dancers and choreographers are pursuing dance minors, there are students from several different areas of study who are participating in the production.

“I love directing and mentoring these students,” Lane noted. “One of the other things that’s really exciting this year is that we have nine student choreographers and most of them are first-time choreographers, so it’s always amazing to walk with them along this creative journey and mentor them through this process, because they feel what’s going on on campus, and we need some happiness.”

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Lane’s assistant director, student Hannah Dow, also noticed this need. Together, Dow and Lane came up with the “Wall of Good,” a wall where students and professors could write down positive experiences that gave them a “warm and fuzzy feeling,” Lane explained. She noted it has been “so cool” to see the wall grow, especially during the rehearsals for the Dance Production.

This is the power of dance, she added. In a time when positive experiences are often curated on social media, art offers authenticity.

“Sharing dance this way, in person, you can’t hide,” Lane explained. “It’s a very visceral, in-person situation where people have to kind of bring themselves. It's totally the opposite of social media…I think the power of dance is to connect us in a very real sense rather than kind of having a pretend connection where we don’t really get to know people.”

This is Lane’s hope for the Dance Production on April 11–13 at McVay Centre for the Performing Arts on the Principia campus. The show is scheduled for 8 p.m. on April 11, 12 and 13 and 2 p.m. on April 13. Tickets cost $5 for students and $12 for adults. You can purchase tickets online.

In the weeks leading up to the show, the Theatre and Dance department will also showcase the dancers and choreographers on their Instagram page @PrincipiaTheatreDance. You can check out their page to learn more.

“It’s time to carry the hope forward and make change,” Lane added. “We are open to everybody and we’re really looking forward to continuing to share all of our theater and dance performances with the community. Everybody is always welcome to come and see.”

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