The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

PAC’s small show: not so small behind the scenes

4 min read

“Redefine” choreographed by Isabella Gordineer. / Ana Kendrick


Staff Writer

The UMW Performing Arts Company (PAC) performed their first show of the school year, Small Show, on Oct. 16. It featured 15 dance performances, nine choreographed and performed by PAC members and six by other campus dance clubs.

Small Show is run differently from Big Show, which will take place at the end of the semester.

“[In] Small Show, you have to agree to be in someone’s piece. But for Big Show, you’re placed into a dance,” said freshman Niki Altenberg, a member of PAC.

In PAC, dancers must have been in the company for two semesters to be eligible to choreograph. Choreographers must choreograph for Small Show before they are eligible to choreograph for Big Show, and three pieces from Small Show are chosen by a committee to be performed again in Big Show along with the other pieces.

Small Show also includes performances by other clubs, while Big Show only features PAC members. UMW Bellydance, UMW Breakers, the Dance Team, the Alter Egos Step Team, Praise Dance Club, and Eagle Bhangra all performed in this semester’s Small Show.

These other dance clubs brought different styles of dance along with unique tastes of different cultures.

Courtesy of Ana Kendrick “Someone in the Crowd” choreographed by Ginny Bixby.

Leeann Haywood, a freshman member of PAC, said, “I didn’t realize how many other dance clubs there were. I thought it was really cool that [PAC] got to incorporate the whole dance community into [the] show.”

Choreographers spend hours choosing songs, coming up with themes, movements, costuming and most importantly, conducting rehearsals. Each PAC piece typically only has an hour of rehearsal per week, due to limited time slots at the Goolrick Hall studios. Dancers often have to practice at home independently, or find other places on campus to rehearse as a group. This semester, PAC only had five weeks to prepare for Small Show.

The styles of dance performed by PAC in Small Show ranged between contemporary, tap, pointe and jazz. Some of the pieces were more upbeat and energetic; some were more emotional and told stories.

“Not every dance has to tell a story…It depends on the choreographer, they will have their own story that they tell through the dance. But, then the dancers can also express it in their own way. It’s through both the choreographer and dancer on how they [choose to] portray it,” said Haywood.

“Every dance has a story no matter the experience of the dancer or choreographer,” said choreographer and junior Chad Lancaster. “Whether you are jamming alone in your room to your favorite song, or performing for PAC at Dodd, our bodies and faces convey a message as we dance to paint a picture to others. Dance, to me, is always a medium of expression.”

For Lancaster’s performance, “Boop to the Beat,” he said his main focus was to paint a picture for the audience. He and senior Leah Corts mirrored one another’s dance moves in a duet to create a funny, child-like energy that was easy for the audience to enjoy.

“I chose the song with Leah to make sure we both were happy with it. It’s more well-known to people and it can be jazzy, fast, and also allow for some hip hop style dancing into the mix. It also sounded really cute for a duet,” said Lancaster. He said he created this performance with Corts, who is graduating in December, as a way to say goodbye and wish her best of luck after college.

Sophomore choreographer Mary Stallings, a psychology major, said that she was inspired by her dance’s song, “Boogie Shoes,” because it was the first dance she was a part of when she was a child.

“I wanted to do something upbeat and different from the contemporary pieces I had done before,” said Stallings. This piece was Stallings’ first dance she choreographed for PAC.

Stallings said she had received help on the dance from her fellow performers, Emma Pillis and Megan Morrison. “The dancers lit up the entire stage and brought the dance to life,” said Stallings.

The choreographers were able to view what their dance looked like on stage for the very first time only a few hours before the show, with only seven minutes per dance to go over spacing and lighting. For some dancers, this was the first time they were able to try on and dance in their costumes.

Both Haywood and Altenberg said they were both extremely nervous before the show, but afterward they were pleased with their hard work.

PAC’s next performance, Big Show, which will be performed Nov. 23 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 24 at 2:00 p.m.