Dance Ensemble: 26 Years of Movement

By Gabe Garcia

(l-r) Rachel Schmidt, Krista Colarosa, Kiara Jones, and Savannah Lach. Photo courtesy of Office of Marketing & Communications.

Youngstown State University’s 26th annual Dance Ensemble will hold performances April 6, 7 and 8 at 7:30 p.m. in Bliss Hall’s Ford Theater.

An informal art walk titled Blissful Beginnings will start at 6:30 p.m. on opening night of the concert and run until curtain call. The art walk is designed to showcase the arts in the College of Creative Arts & Communication.

People can view an exhibit by artist Carrie Longley and enjoy musical entertainment in the theater lobby before the show opening at no additional cost.

“All students in the ensemble are dance majors or minors,” said Christine Cobb, dance professor and student adviser of the organization. “If ever they feel their dances are too broad or too difficult, they can come to me for feedback.”

Students have to try out for a spot on the dance ensemble team each fall– this is what determines who will be dancing in the spring concert.

“The dancers come in during the fall semester if they wish to choreograph and be in the ensemble,” said Cobb. “They have to audition in front of me and two other professors and then two weeks later they go through the acceptance process.”

Preparing for the concert starts at the beginning of the fall semester and practices take place every Sunday for over an hour.

Krista Colarosa, a junior communications student, is participating in Dance Ensemble for the fourth time.

“My dance is a contemporary solo about how I lost myself and my friends in an abusive relationship and how I got myself back,” said Colarosa. “For me one of the best feelings when I’m dancing is getting lost in the moment. It comes so naturally that I forget the audience is even there and it’s one of the most amazing feelings.”

There are 11 pieces in the concert featuring 31 different dancers in genres like modern, jazz, tap, contemporary and musical theater.

“I’m actually in two pieces,” said Stefon Funderburke, a musical theater major. “The first number is a musical theater piece featuring music from Chicago where I am the character Billy Flynn and the second we dance to hits from Britney Spears!”

Another performer in the ensemble is junior Rachel Schmidt, a dance and hospitality management student, who joined the ensemble as a sophomore.

“I really loved dance and after taking Modern Dance I with professor Cobb, I knew I wanted to join the ensemble,” said Schmidt. “I’m a really shy person but right before I’m about to go onstage, it’s like I become fearless– it’s awesome.”

The week leading up to the concert is known as Tech Week by the dancers and performers. This is where practices become longer and occur every day.

“I usually bring a blanket and pillow because being in the studio is like a second home and we can be in there anywhere from 2-12 hours,” said Schmidt. “It does get a little exhausting and makes it difficult to find time for other things like school and friends, but it’s so worth it.”

Adult tickets are $16. Special rate tickets are $8 for students from other campuses, YSU faculty and staff with valid ID, senior citizens, Penguin Club members and groups of eight or more. YSU student tickets are free with valid ID. All tickets are general admission.