Imagine standing in the center of the room with the spotlight on you. Each person in the audience is looking at just you, waiting to be amazed. You’re sweating and your heart is fluttering as you wait for the music to begin. This is your moment.
For 20 dancers in the Department of Theatre and Dance, their moment will come at the inaugural Solo Dance Festival this Thursday night. It’s a brand new type of campus showcase where student dancers – even those not affiliated with the department – have the opportunity to perform their own choreography in an informal setting.
“A new tradition has begun and this year we’re getting our roots down,” said professor Maida Withers, the creator of the event.
For the past 14 years, Withers has produced the Improvisation Festival each fall for dancers to participate in. But because of issues with available space, the improv showcase was cancelled and the solo program took its place.
“It’s so easy in an institution to get dull and lose the luster through perfection. It’s important to initiate new things and new ways to get involved,” Withers said.
As part of Withers’ dance composition class, students were able to take the idea of a night of original solo performances and turn it into an event.
“GW has been the leader in expanding festivals like this to the larger community,” Withers said.
Following the festival, participants will write blog posts in an online journal about their experience performing their solo.
“The traditional limits [of communication] are breaking down,” Withers said of the incorporation of blogs. “Students have their own ways of disseminating information.”
While the department mainly focuses on teaching and performing the contemporary style of dance, this will give students a chance to perform any style of their choice. Members of Capital Funk and Balance: The GW Ballet Group have signed up to perform solo pieces of work.
“I think this is a nice informal opportunity for the GW community to see dance that is not necessarily the technique we study in the department,” said Tal Schapira, a junior in the dance department.
Every semester the department hosts DanceWorks, a collection of contemporary dance pieces choreographed by students, professors and guest artists. Students who wish to perform in the production must audition for each choreographer in an open call at the beginning of each semester.
This week’s festival offers students a chance to choose their own work, sign up and perform for their peers. It also invites members of the community to enjoy a free night of entertainment.
“The opportunity to perform for the public provides the needed exposure for the department to gain prominence in the community,” Schapira said.
The festival will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the dance studio at Building J, located at 2131 G St. Admission is free.