Dance Into the Semester: ESU’s Dance Team Holds Auditions

ESU students audition for the University's dance team on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at Mattioli Recreation Center Studio.  Photo Credit / Brook Wadle
ESU students audition for the University’s dance team on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at Mattioli Recreation Center Studio.
Photo Credit / Brook Wadle

SC Staff Writer

The curiosity and anticipation of what East Stroudsburg University (ESU) is all about and what the university has to offer can make any incoming freshman feel a little overwhelmed, but joining a club can help take the pressure off. It can even make students feel less homesick.

For those who are creative and enjoy the art of dance, joining ESU’s University Dance Company (UDC), Contemporary Dancers, or the Dance Team can be a way of getting involved. To show off their abilities, a student can audition for any or all of the three dance groups.

What does an ESU Student have to do for an audition?

Dancewear, like a leotard and tights or dance pants and a top, must be worn.  Students will also need ballet slippers or bare feet. If a dancer has long hair, it should be worn up in a ponytail, bun, or braid.

The audition is similar to a dance class, lead by Dr. Gibbons, the artistic director of UDC. There are warm-ups and combinations across the floor, which help Gibbons understand a dancer’s alignment and placement. There are also upper-class dance students, guest artists like Maria Triano of the PA Dance Network, and other faculty who then teach the students their routines in ballet, jazz, tap, or other styles. This audition format helps students feel comfortable with what they are doing and not hesitate on what to do next.

Michelle Zbinden, a UDC member, highlights the stress of an audition.

“It’s very nerve-wracking to come into an audition, pin a number onto your leotard, and show what you’ve got,” Zbinden says.  “It’s hard to be easy on yourself and let yourself have fun.  After a few auditions, you get to tap into the zone of dancing more easily.”

Even with a student’s nerves escalating, especially if it is their first audition, it is still possible to have fun. Students should feel comfortable and have an idea about which group they feel they would belong in the most. The Dance Team performs at sporting events with high-energy jazz and hip-hop routines during half-time shows. New choreography is taught in weekly practices.

Auditions for this group were held Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 8 pm in the Recreational Center studio by Dr. Suzanne Fischer Prestoy.

Students can also join either the Contemporary Dancers or UDC, which are both directed by Dr. Gibbons.  The Contemporary group expresses themselves in a creative expression. They show off their artistic expression with a recital performed during the spring semester. Meetings are on Wednesdays from 8-10 pm, and help increase the knowledge and enjoyment of dance. Auditions were held September 4, 2013 at 8 pm in the Recreational Center, but another audition was held on September 11, 2013 at the same time for those who still wish to join.

The UDC performs each semester with a selective group of male and female dancers who show off their talents through ballet, jazz, and tap. Meetings are usually on Mondays and Wednesdays from 2-3 pm at the Dance Studio in the Koehler Fieldhouse.

It can be difficult choosing which dancers will be in each group, as there are about 20 to 40 dancers coming in to audition every fall semester. Those who wish to join the UDC should have 3 to 5 years of experience as an adult dancer and have a good technique.

“Each group has their own audition,” says Dr. Gibbons, who has been involved in the dance department and auditioning process at ESU since 1992.

“We are each responsible for choosing who we want to come join us.”

Upon being selected, dancers are told what their commitment is and are asked to bring their class schedules to see when they are available to rehearse.  Rehearsals are from 5 to 11 pm, where dancers get used to the stage, lighting, and exits. Routines are practiced 2 to 4 times, which increases as performances approaches.

Unfortunately, not everyone can be chosen to join these three groups, but Dr. Gibbons encourages students to keep trying.

“Don’t get discouraged if not chosen,” says Dr. Gibbons. “We encourage those not chosen to go and take different dance classes and come back for auditions.”

Ms. Zbinden says it helps, “To be supportive and compassionate of yourself and the dancers in a noncompetitive spirit. It takes some of the pressure off to realize you are all in the same boat.”

Auditioning can be hard work, but it pays off in the long run. That hard work will be seen this coming November when UDC performs their fall showcase from November 21 to 22, 2013 at 7pm and November 23, 2013 at 2pm in Abeloff.

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