Participants in Utah Tech University’s Dance in Concert share their burning up the dance floor preparation for the event and their love for dance.
Dance in Concert consists of Utah Tech’s dance department students who auditioned to be part of the event. The dance and theater departments work together to produce the show.
Sara Gallo, professor and director of the dance department, said a call for choreographers was put out which brought in choreographers from around the nation. In addition to these guest artists, dance faculty members were choreographers as well.
Gallo, who has been in dance education for over 20 years, has a Master of Fine Arts from California State University Long Beach and has had her choreography featured locally and in cities throughout the United States. As she has performed professionally, her expertise is in contemporary modern dance, improvisation and choreography.
Gallo said some of the dance rehearsals for the concert started in December 2022. Not only do the dancers learn their choreography for the concert, but additional work is put into creating the concert with costumes, props and lighting designs.
“With dance being a performing art, opportunities for students to perform are essential to their dance education and development as artists,” Gallo said. “[The dance students] performance quality and confidence has grown immensely since the beginning of the semester, especially in the past couple of weeks rehearsing in the theater.”
Gallo said the participating students rehearse for the concert four to five times a week for countless hours.
Abbey Larrabee, a freshman exercise science major from St. George, said the preparation for this event has been different than the last dance concert.
“We had one week to learn each piece before moving on to the next one,” Larrabee said. “One thing I think helped prepare us for the show was setting aside time to run the pieces each week so they stuck and we didn’t forget anything.”
Each dancer would then practice and review their pieces on their own time.
“It was so awesome to walk by the studios and see dancers reviewing and running pieces for themselves,” Larrabee said. “I know I met up with a few others to refresh and work on a few things in individual pieces and that really helped me.”
Larrabee has been dancing since she was two years old. She said her passion for dance started at a young age because she saw her older sister dance and wanted to be like her. After this initial introduction from her sister, Larrabee said she started to develop her own love for dance.
“I wanted to do it for me,” Larrabee said.
Larrabee’s favorite part about preparation for the concert has been getting to work with new people and trying new things.
“I got to work with a different choreographer for every piece,” Larrabee said. “I got to work with some faculty and some guests. It was so fun to learn from all these different people.”
She also enjoyed the versatility of the dances each choreographer brought to the table which included new styles for Larrabee. She is looking forward to performing with her new knowledge and dance skills.
As for Larrabee’s future in dance, she said before college she was set on a career that didn’t necessarily involve dance. However, after participating with Utah Tech’s dance department, she has started looking into careers that involve dance.
“I do know that dance has been such a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember,” Larrabee said. “It’s influenced my life in so many ways, and I can’t imagine not dancing.”
Chandaln Whitear, a junior dance major from Evanston, Wyoming, will be performing in four different pieces that vary in style from contemporary modern to rhythmic exploration.
“Most pieces average seven to 12 minutes so there was a lot of hustle from both dancers and choreographers,” Whitear said.
Whitear has always loved dance and has taken every opportunity to do so.
“There was a moment that I wasn’t able to dance and that really took a toll on me,” Whitear said. “We forget how much we love something until it’s taken away from us.”
After college, Whitear plans to continue in the professional dancing field which includes being either a dancer on a cruise line or in a company.
To see the dedication and skills from dancers, dance faculty and choreographers, Dance in Concert will be April 13-14 at 7:30 p.m. in the Dolores Dore Eccles Fine Arts Building. Tickets are free for students and $12 for non-students. Go support the arts and the artists who brought this concert to life.