Backstage with the Student Performance Company

It’s Tuesday night, and rehearsals are in full swing. The youngest dancers practice their spacing, and go over the footwork one more time. The teens try on their costumes, adjusting shoulder straps and skirts. The adults are just arriving after work at their day jobs– professor, doctor, graduate student, elementary teacher. Dance Project’s Student Performance Company is ready to work!

Teen Performance Company at Pillow PopsTonight, they’re preparing for two upcoming performances, the First Friday Camp Fair, and the annual Pillow Pops performance, a concert for kids featuring a live orchestra. Students in the performance companies (Junior (ages 7-12), Teen (ages 13-18), and Adult) rehearse once a week during the Fall and Spring, learning choreography for a variety of performances. Some, like 15 year old Sarah Allen, have been a part of the Company since it began in 2009. She loves “getting to dance at different places, especially retirement communities, [and] loves the service aspect of it.”

The aim of the Student Performance Company is two-fold: give dancers of all ages the opportunity to gain performance experience in a non-competitive environment while sharing dance broadly within our community. Taylor Taylor, member of the Teen Performance Company since 2013, says her “favorite thing about Performance Company is being able to perform new choreography all over Greensboro.” Sarah Allen agrees, saying that “performing has helped build my self-confidence.”

This year’s Pillow Pops concert is a contemporary retelling of the classic “Carmen.” Nine-year old Avery Winney says, “Pillow Pops is my favorite dance so far, because we are supposed to ‘mess up’ in the dance and that makes it funny.” On Sunday, March 6, Dance Project’s Student Performance Company will take the stage at the Lindley Park Recreation Center, alongside the Greensboro Philharmonia. Like all of the Performance Company concerts, Pillow Pops is a free show. Fun, family-friendly, free–a perfect Sunday afternoon activity!

Teen Performance CompanyEach of the performances for the students present a different challenge–from the size of the stage to the size of the audience. This spring, the Performance Company will also bring the joy of dance to the Cultural Center’s Atrium for the Camp Fair (Mar 4), Morehead Elementary’s International Night (Mar 17), Wellspring Retirement Community (May 14), and the Starr Theater for Dance Project’s annual student showcase (May 22). The variety of performance settings helps the students learn to be versatile performers and adapt to their surroundings–sometimes you just go with the flow and make it work!

In addition to offering free performances all around town, Dance Project’s Student Performance Companies also participate in an annual community service project together. For Dance Project Co-Director Lauren Joyner, this type of “giving back” is crucial: “It really helps our students connect the dots, to see their place in the community in a larger context, and helps them think about what they have to offer, through their dancing, or otherwise.”

It’s time for the final rehearsal before the weekend’s performance, and after all the bustling and laughing and talking, the dancers are ready to begin. The group takes their places, their voices falling silent as the music begins.

IMG_1879If you or your child would like the opportunity to give back to the community by performing in a nurturing, creative environment, enrollment for our Student Performance Companies will begin in the Fall 2016. Want another reason? Avery Winney says: “You should join performance company because it is fun to do, you get to perform and wear pretty costumes, and you get to become friends with all of the dancers.” Enough said!



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