By Mary Rodack
The Youngstown State University Dance Ensemble spent the last seven months preparing for its performance on Feb. 28 through March 2.
YSU’s Budget Proposal for 2018 proposed giving $7.6 million to the Cliffe College of Creative Arts and Communication, which includes the dance program. The budget proposed giving $11.5 million to the department of athletics.
“It takes the athletic skill. We’re up there sweating, but it also takes being an artist,” Elizabeth Angeletti, a member of YSU Dance Ensemble said.
Angeletti, a sophomore special education major, said she has been dancing for 10 years and did not want to stop when she got to college.
Amy Wright, dance program coordinator and one of the choreographers for the ensemble, said that anyone can audition for the dance ensemble, but suggests she or he take a dance technique class.
“The main divide that prevents people from seeing dancers as athletes is the notion of ‘sport,’” Wright said. “Performing arts like dance are strengthened when we demand the same level of physical dexterity and discipline as we would of ‘traditional’ athletes, but allow the goal to be the work itself rather than the trophy.”
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines an athlete as “a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports or games requiring physical strength, agility or stamina.”
Jackie Cunningham, artistic director for the Ballet Western Reserve, which is a dance company based in downtown Youngstown, said she considers dancers to be athletes.
“The amount of time in class and rehearsal, the physical strain and endurance, the injuries and the stress in keeping up their school grades is equal if not more involved than athletes,” Cunningham said.
She also said ballet dancers have their own exercise regimen, and company dancers are required to take the strength and conditioning class, which is a mixture of pilates, yoga, stretch, core and resistance training.
“I just like to be creative, and I turn on some music and my body does whatever it wants,” Angeletti said. “It’s not just dancing.”
Wright said her personal desire is to see that both athletic and performing arts programs can be “valued for the very different but equally vital enrichment that they can bring to their communities.”
Wright said to support the arts and the dance program, the community can come to the performances, take a dance class and talk with others about the importance of the arts.
Cunningham said members of the community can support the Ballet Western Reserve by coming to shows, taking classes, supporting fundraisers and donating to the dancing program.
For anyone who is interested in joining the dance ensemble, there are not many requirements. Some knowledge about ballet and modern dance is suggested.
Wright said anyone can audition for the dance ensemble, but suggests taking a dance technique class to learn some ballet and modern dance. Auditions are held each fall semester in September.
“Question everything you see. Use your hands and your arms for good. Look for where your voice can be heard,” Wright said.