10th Annual DanceWise Performance Nov. 16-19
by Beth Riner, Messenger Staff Writer
In the 25th anniversary year of the Tennessee Williams Center, the University of the South’s Department of Theater and Dance is also celebrating the 10th anniversary of DanceWise.
“DanceWise is a dance concert in line with professional concert dance rather than a studio recital,” said Associate Professor of Dance Courtney World, who was hired to build a dance minor at the University in 2013.
Performances are set for 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 16, Friday, Nov. 17, and Saturday, Nov. 18, in the Proctor Hill Theatre in the Tennessee Williams Center. An additional performance is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 19.
The concert spotlights 12 dances, including tap, contemporary modern, contemporary ballet, and Afrofusion.
“I think everybody could enjoy this,” World said. “There’s a lot of variety — there’s something for everyone.”
The concert, under World’s artistic direction, features choreography and performances by students, faculty, alumni, and guest artists.
“I develop a concept and put out a call for student choreographers—they’re selected based on proposals that are related to the theme,” World explained.
This year’s theme is Traces, which explores the concept of “leaving your mark.”
“Just as the human body inscribes the space with trace forms resulting from pathways, lines, and shapes as we dance, we all leave traces of ourselves with the people and places we encounter,” World said.
The seven students selected to choreograph performance pieces this year are Suzanne Cole, Talia de la Cruz, Amelia Gauthreaux, J.T. Michel, Olivia Millwood, Lily Oakley, and Kate White. Additionally, World and two alumni dance minors, Dr. Fridien Tchoukoua and Karissa Wheeler, have also choreographed pieces.
World is excited to have alumni participating in this year’s concert.
“The first six dance minors to graduate from the University of the South have come back to celebrate their contributions to the ever-evolving legacy of dance at Sewanee and to engage with our current students who are developing their own artistry and leaving their marks on this place,” World said.
In addition to the two alumni choreographers, the four alumni dancers who performed in some of the very first productions of DanceWise include Alyssa Holley, Arthur Ndoumbe, Ashlin Ondrusek, and Danielle Silifies.
Guest Artist Adrienne Wilson of Auburn University will perform with World. Additionally, 25 University students are dancing in the production.
“Some of them are dance minors, but most of them are studying all kinds of other things,” World said. “They are very passionate about dance and are spending a lot of their time in rehearsals and dedicating themselves to this art because they can’t live without it.”
The 10th anniversary is meaningful for World.
“This is a celebration of how dance has grown at Sewanee, especially overcoming the hump of the pandemic,” she said. “Dance took a hard hit because we couldn’t be together.”
She recalled that the seniors dancing the pandemic year had to dance in six-foot squares and couldn’t touch each other. DanceWise had 30 people — masked and distanced — in the audience that year, and the production was livestreamed.
“This feels like a triumphant return and a growing and a celebration of where we’ve been and where we’re going,” she said.
Admission is free, but seating is limited. To reserve tickets, Go to <Eventbrite.com>.