Elon Dance Company
Elon University's premier Dance Company consists of roughly forty student members and four full-time faculty members. Acceptance into the Elon Dance Company is extremely competitive and dancers must go through an extensive audition process to be considered. Those lucky enough to be accepted engage in intense training and several performance opportunities throughout their four years. Many dancers come out of the Elon dance program ready for the cut-throat professional world. Many alumni have gone on to dance in world renowned companies such as the Radio City Rockettes, Gaspard and Dancers, and South Pacific the musical.
Lauren Kearns is currently a tenured professor in Elon University’s performing arts department; she serves as the head of the dance program and the founder of the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Lauren Kearns teaches a wide variety of classes ranging from somatic theories to senior seminar and frequently choreographs for Elon’s “Spring Dance Concert.” In addition to directing the entire Elon Dance Company, Lauren Kearns also runs her own professional company, The Kearns Dance Project. Prior to relocating to North Carolina and debuting The Kearns Dance Project in 2007, she served as a tenured faculty member in California where she founded her first company, Bodytalk Dance in 1999.
Lauren Kearns (Coordinator of BFA and BA Dance Program)
Jason Aryeh (African-Infusion)
Jen Guy Metcalf (Ballet)
Jane Wellford (Improvisation, Choreography)
Renay Aumiller (Ballet, Jazz, Modern)
Amanda Diono (Dance)
Rebecca Hutchins (Modern)
Natalie Marone (Ballet, Jazz)
Gene Medler (Tap)
Sara Tourek (Ballet, Jazz, Modern)
Nina Wheeler (Jazz)
Sandy Blocker (Staff Accompanist)
Elon’s dance curriculum is performance and creative-base, preparing students for the professional world. Each dancer improves his or her technical skills by completing advanced levels in ballet and modern and electives in jazz, tap, world dance, or musical theater styles. Dance majors learn the latest concepts and techniques of somatic movement, such as yoga for dancers, classical Pilates, and experiential anatomy. It is also required for students to take improvisation classes and two levels of choreography classes, dance history, design for dance (costumes, lighting, and set design), and makeup techniques. Other electives dancers can choose from include partnering, dance and video, dance education, dance philosophy, dance science, contact improvisation, and Fosse. By the time Elon Dance Company members graduate, they have not only received an excellent academic and artistic education, but also have gained real life skills in resume building, audition techniques, and networking abilities. The Elon BFA program helps translate students’ talents into professional contracts leaving graduates as versatile performers and choreographers.
Members of the Elon Dance Company have many opportunities to perform throughout the year. The EDC’s season starts with a performance called “Dance in the Landscape.” It is a free outdoor show that takes place on Elon’s Parents Weekend. The choreography Salons I and II are next to perform in October. Salons I and II showcase student choreographed pieces performed by other company members. “Dancing in the Black Box” is Elon Dance Company’s November show and an audition is required to be cast. DBB is a cumulative show of dances choreographed by both Elon and guest choreographers. “Tapped Out” is the next show that performs at the end of Elon’s January term. Students who take tap as their Winter Term class have an opportunity to show what they have learned with this fun and energetic performance. Jason Aryeh, EDC’s African-Infusion instructor, enjoys choreographing and performing in the annual Black History Month show. This February performance demonstrates the shear athleticism needed to perform African dance. Next is the Danceworks performance which is completely student run. Any student on campus can dance in the show or choreograph their own piece. Elon Dance Company’s second audition only performance is the “Spring Dance Concert.” This show is similar to “Dancing in the Black Box” in that many outside choreographers come to set pieces on Elon dancers. The SPD is performed in McCrary Theater located in the Performing Arts Center. The last show of the season is the Senior Thesis performance. This show is auditioned, directed, choreographed, and put on solely by the senior dance majors. Senior Thesis gives Elon Dance Company seniors a feel of what the real production world is like.
The Elon Dance Company is given quite a few opportunities to perform in local and international festivals, infrequently allotted to most university programs. The Elon Dance Company performs in local festivals, such as the North Carolina Dance Festival and the North Carolina Dance Alliance, several times each year. In between shows students attend auditions, workshops, and master classes. In the Spring of 2012, nine company members were accompanied by Lauren Kearns and Carl Green to perform in the Semaine de la Danse Festival in Aurillac, France. Lauren Kearns choreographed “End Games,” an extremely athletic dance performed in unitards and motorcycle helmets. For being the only American university invited to the festival, Elon Dance Company received outstanding reviews.
The hard work students put into their dancing during the year pays off tremendously when trying to find summer internships. Past Elon Dance Company members have interned at Parson's Dance Company, Bates Dance Festival, Broadway Dance Center, Alvin Ailey, and Jacob's Pillow. These dance institutions are amongst the best in the world and very competitive. Some company members however would rather further their technique over the summers and engage in month long intensives, including the Complexions Dance Company, Joffrey Ballet, International Ballet Academy, American Ballet Theater, and Radio City Rockettes.
Elon University offers dancers three unique study abroad opportunities to Florence, Jerusalem, and Ghana. The Florence, Italy trip was new as of 2012 and only a couple students took advantage of the program. Students took dance classes at the beautiful Florence Dance Center while completing several general education requirements. The Florence Dance Center was a good match for Elon dancers because of the shared educational mission to create smart young artists. The second abroad opportunity available to the Elon Dance Company is the Jerusalem trip. Students interested in traveling to Jerusalem must be a junior and have taken Hebrew before leaving. This program is the longest of the three, spanning from January to May. Students take classes at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance to learn the “Gaga” style of dance. “Gaga” is like no style taught in the United States. It is extremely physical and athletic. Finally, Jason Aryeh is leading the Ghana trip for the first time in the Spring of 2013. While learning and performing movements, students will also have the opportunity to explore traditional styles of West African dance.
"Dance program prepares for debut on international stage." The Pendulum [Elon] 7 Mar. 2012: 18. Print.
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Hanson, Rachel. "Lauren Kearns on How to Start a Dance Company." Dance steps | Dance instruction | Dancers. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Oct. 2013. <http://dance.lovetoknow.com/other-dance-topics/lauren-kearns-how-start-dance-company>.
Kearns, Lauren. Personal interview. 2 Oct. 2013.
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