CSU Dance Students Return to the Allen Theatre Stage

An Interview with CSU Company dancers

March 25 and 26, Cleveland State University dance students return to the main stage of the Allen Theatre complex at Playhouse Square in the annual Spring Dance Concert. This performance will mark the first time that the concert has been able to take place in the theatre since the Spring of 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students from both the CSU Dance Group and CSU Dance Company will be performing, along with guest performances by Antonio Brown and GroundWorks DanceTheatre.

I interviewed the four CSU Dance Company members to get some more insight into the show and this notable return to the Allen Theatre space.

CSU Dance Company members pose backstage. Photo courtesy of Alyssa Kurkul

What are you looking forward to the most with this performance?

“Performing live on an actual stage. I performed in the Allen Theater once as a freshman, but now I get the opportunity to come back and be in more pieces this time,” said Mary Nozak, a senior double majoring in Community Dance and Journalism.

“Plus, I actually like the process of tech week- I feel like it creates important bonding among the dancers. Then the show is a culmination of all of that — the time and effort we have spent in rehearsals. It is our chance to show of the work that we do here in the program,” she continued.

Any comment on returning to the Allen Theatre?

“We are all just very excited about it,” said Saige Rook, a senior company member double majoring in Community Dance and Health Sciences. CSU did some virtual showings last year and this past semester did a fall concert, but the company states how that just wasn’t the same because it was less formal.

Rook added, “Its been over two years, so it feels different to be back, but a good different. Also, as we have been able to transition away from COVID regulations a bit, and have been able to interact more as dancers and allowing us to get closer, especially with being a small group, and there is an energy behind that that helps fuel our dancing.”

What types of pieces have you been working on/ what can the audience expect to see?

“A variety of styles and energies. There is the more modern style of dancing in “On This Day” (choreographed by Antonio Brown), but then the last piece of the show is more of a party with a mix of street dancing styles,” said Megan Bryars, a senior double majoring in Community Dance and Film.

The piece that Bryars refers to here is “The Shade” by Teena Marie Custer. Continuing to talk about “The Shade,” Bryars adds, “the piece consists of dancers from both dance company and dance group. Because of this there are different sections that bring about various waves of intentionality. Overall, it just makes for such a fun dance.”

Can you elaborate on the rehearsal process?

“Preparing for a more formal concert setting mean longer and more extensive rehearsals. Details such as intention and focus make us dancers confident about what we are doing onstage,” said Sydney Adebo, company member and current dance student.

“Once onstage there’s more people, better lighting, and a higher level of sound quality with the music that allows me to dance in the moment for the experience of a lifetime. It is about being able to manifest the choreography to inspire other dancers in the audience.”

Any additional comments?

Such a small group of dancers meant changes to choreography or spacing — particularly in reference to the piece “On This Day.” Most of the dancers had performed this piece previously for a virtual showing last year, so they had previous expectations. The graduating company members also mentioned that there is a sense of coming full circle, and getting back to the dances they missed out on because of COVID. The dancers reflected on the time and effort that went into the performance and stated, “it will all really come together in the end.”

The performances are March 25 and 26 at the Allen Theatre Complex at Playhouse Square. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased through the CSU Dance website.

Author: Trinity Stevens

Trinity Stevens is a current student at Cleveland State University majoring in Dance in Community, minoring in Theatre Studies, and pursuing a certificate in Arts Management & Community Development.