On Saturday night, Pfleeger Concert Hall was filled with students, faculty, friends and parents for one thing: Rowan Dance Extensions’ first-ever showcase. The overhead lights dimmed and chatter from the eager audience came to a halt. The stage lit up as Dance Extensions President, Tyler Benson, stepped out, microphone in hand, to introduce the production.
“To my company members, I am so proud of each and every one of you and all of the work you’ve put in this semester and last semester. To my choreographers, I’m so grateful to have your work in our show and on this stage,” said Benson before exiting the stage.
When the lights rose, they were accompanied by a swarm of dancers in simplistic, earth-toned outfits. The music was slow and melancholic but the movements that coincided were quick, sharp, passionate and emotive.
The show went on in a similar fashion, broken into two acts consisting of 14 different student-choreographed pieces varying in styles including contemporary, jazz and tap — featuring soloists, duets and group performances on a broad range of topics from the COVID-19 pandemic to Mario Kart.
Benson choreographed a piece titled “03-13-20.”
“It starts off on March thirteenth when the world shut down and it talks about virtual learning, politics and COVID talks. It talks about masks and just goes through all of it to show the progression,” said Benson.
The dance was a duet between Benson and Dance Extensions’ service chair and sophomore dance and marketing major, Valentina Giannattasio. The two performed in masks as audio clips of government officials and newscasters discussing the pandemic — including one of Benson’s high school principals announcing his school’s closure — played along with the song “In My Room” by Jacob Collier. According to Benson, it is the first time he’s gotten the opportunity to choreograph his own dance.
Other pieces were more lighthearted, like the closing number: a musical-theater style dance inspired by the video game Mario Kart titled “Rainbow Road”, choreographed by Jordyn Dauter, the dance company’s secretary and a sophomore studying dance and exercise science.
“It’s a dance concept that really hasn’t been done [I realized] as I was doing research on it. It’s just meant to have fun and show personality,” Dauter said. “It’s been really fun working with my cast and their energy. It’s so upbeat and there’s just a lot of dynamics and abstract parts.”
The piece nicely wrapped up the evening on a positive and lively note.
“I actually had this idea and started working on it many years ago and for me it’s so surreal that it’s all coming to the stage today,” said Dauter.
Several of the pieces were in the works far before they ever hit the stage.
Cade MacFee is a senior theater major and the club’s treasurer
“I’ve just been seeing everybody put months of work into their pieces. Some of these started at the beginning of last semester and they’ve been constantly tweaking everything since then, just putting all of their energy into bringing personal stories to the table and being very vulnerable with their casts and with this audience,” said MacFee.
Dance Extensions is very unique in the sense that they are open to all majors, even non-performing arts students. Their showcase follows suit as one of the first opportunities for students across majors and concentrations to come together and put together and perform their own show.
“With people not even being in the college of performing arts and making pieces, it’s a reminder and an affirmation within our company, that there’s beautiful art everywhere and there is beautiful art inside every person,” said MacFee.
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